Ramana Maharshi on the two types of liberation: (1) liberation in this life (Jivanmukti) and (2) liberation after death (Videhamukti)


ramana all that we need do is to keep quiet

The following dialogue is taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk number 265, my additions are in red:

Questioner: There are said to be sadeha mukta (liberated in body) and videha mukta (liberated without body).

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is no liberation, and where are muktas [the liberated ones]?

Questioner: Do not Hindu sastras [scriptures] speak of mukti [liberation]?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Mukti is synonymous with the Self. Jivan mukti (liberation while alive) and videha mukti (liberation after the body falls) are all for the ignorant. The Jnani  [liberated one] is not conscious of mukti or bandha (bondage).

Bondage, liberation and orders of mukti are all said for an ajnani [ignorant or unliberated one] in order that ignorance might be shaken off.

There is only mukti and nothing else.

The following is the taken from Vichara Shangraham, a text attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi. Vichara Sangraham is often translated simply as ‘Self Enquiry’ and literally means ‘A compendium of (Self) Enquiry’. This excerpt is very the last section of the text:

Question: What are the characteristics of the jivan-mukta (the liberated in life) and the videha-mukta (the liberated at death)?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: ‘I am not the body; I am Brahman which is manifest as the Self. In me who am the plenary [absolute] Reality, the world consisting of bodies etc, are mere appearance, like the blue of the sky’. He who has realized the truth thus is a jivan-mukta.

Yet so long as his mind has not been resolved, there may arise some misery for him because of relation to objects on account of prarabdha (karma which has begun to fructify and whose result is the present body) [ie. due to destiny], and as the movement of mind has not ceased there will not be also the experience of bliss.

The experience of Self is possible only for the mind that has become subtle and unmoving as a result of prolonged meditation. He who is thus endowed with a mind that has become subtle, and who has the experience of the Self is called a jivan-mukta. It is the state of jivan-mukti that is referred to as the attributeless Brahman and as the Turiya.

When even the subtle mind gets resolved, and experience of self ceases, and when one is immersed in the ocean of bliss and has become one with it without any differentiated existence, one is called a videha-mukta. It is the state of videha-mukti that is referred to as the transcendent attributeless Brahman and as the transcendent Turiya. This is the final goal.

Because of the grades in misery and happiness, the released ones, the jivan-muktas and videha- muktas, may be spoken of as belonging to four categories — Brahmavid, vara, variyan and varishtha. But these distinctions are from the standpoint of the others who look at them; in reality, however, there are no distinctions in release [liberation] gained through jnana [self-knowledge].

Was Ramana Maharshi’s self-realistion final and complete when he was a teenager?

I recently got into an online conversation with someone about whether or not Ramana’s realisation when he was 16 years old (often written as being in his 17th year) was final, or if his realisation evolved and matured in the subsequent years in which he spent much time in silence.

I think I read an article, I think by David Godman, some years ago on this which from memory stated that Ramana was insistent that his realisation was final and complete when he was a boy, and that unusually no sadhana (spiritual practice) was required for him. I’ve tried to find the article and I think this is it:


Below are some quotes from it and the link to the article. I want to add that while I quite enjoy learning more about Bhagavan Ramana, in a way all of this discussion can be a detour from the essence of the teaching, so apologies if this kind of minutiae is not that interesting to you. Now, with that said, here are some quotes from the above mentioned article:

‘In answer to a question once put by D. S. Sarma, Bhagavan definitely said that in his case, there was no special sadhana, at any rate in this life, leading to Self-realisation, but that in his 17th year, while he was still a student at Madurai, enlightenment, jnana, came to him, suddenly, in the course of a few minutes, not as a result of laboured ratiocination but as a sudden flash of intuition, and that that jnana has remained with him ever since.’
(My Recollections, p. 135, by Devaraja Mudaliar)

Here Ramana says his vasanas (likes and dislikes) were removed as a teenager (removal of the vasanas implies a full enlightenment):

‘When I lay down with limbs outstretched and mentally enacted the death scene and realised that the body would be taken and cremated and yet I would live, some force, call it atmic power or anything else, rose within me and took possession of me. With that, I was reborn and I became a new man. I became indifferent to everything afterwards, having neither likes nor dislikes.’ (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 22nd November 1945)

From David Godman, who states his sadhana was over in that single ‘death experience’ when he was 16 years old:

‘When he [Ramana] went to Arunachala, it was not because he was spiritually incomplete in any way. His sadhana was over at the end of the death-experience.’

Some further quotes from Ramana Maharshi:

‘In the vision of death, though all the senses were benumbed, the aham sphurana (Self-awareness) was clearly evident, and so I realised that it was that awareness that we call “I”, and not the body. This Self-awareness never decays. It is unrelated to anything. It is Self-luminous. Even if this body is burnt, it will not be affected. Hence, I realised on that very day so clearly that that was “I”.’

(Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 22nd November, 1945)

‘They say I gained realisation in twenty-eight minutes, or half an hour. How can they say that? It took just a moment. But why even a moment? Where is the question of time at all?’ I then asked Bhagavan if there was ever any change in his realisation after his experience in Madurai. He said ‘No. If there is a change, it is not realisation.’

As recorded by Balaram Reddy in My Reminiscences. p. 75

Krishnamurti: have no shelter outwardly or inwardly

rose red enlightenment

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing a series of posts written by J. Krishnamurti. I hope you enjoy them, but also I hope you will take the time to slow down, read them carefully, ponder and see the simple profundity they indicate. Best wishes to you ❤

The following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 4, 1969

Death is only for those who have, and for those who have a resting place. Life is a movement in relationship and attachment; the denial of this movement is death.

Have no shelter outwardly or inwardly; have a room, or a house, or a family, but don’t let it become a hiding place, an escape from yourself.

The safe harbour which your mind has made in cultivating virtue, in the superstition of belief, in cunning capacity or in activity, will inevitably bring death.

You can’t escape from death if you belong to this world, to the society of which you are. The man who died next door or a thousand miles away is you. He has been preparing for years with great care to die, like you. Like you he called living a strife, a misery, or a jolly good show. But death is always there watching, waiting.

But the one who dies each day is beyond death.

To die is to love.

The beauty of love is not in past remembrances or in the images of tomorrow. Love has no past and no future; what has, is memory, which is not love. Love with its passion is just beyond the range of society, which is you.

Die, and it is there.

So, what happens when you die?

Branch lightQ. So, what happens when you die?

How can you know what happens when you die? No matter how you justify it, no matter how many psychic intuitions or spiritual experiences you have, the truth is that you don’t know for sure what happens after death. This question may perhaps be answered by science in the future, but we are not there yet.

Think of a time when you were utterly convinced something was true, but now you look back and realise how wrong you were. Knowledge also comes and goes. Perspectives change as we grow and mature and experience different things.

Enlightenment is beyond knowledge. Enlightenment does not depend on knowledge or the mind. Unlike knowledge and states of mind, Enlightenment cannot be attained – it is already here.

The above is an extract from the following post: Who cares about freedom?