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Jivanmukti Viveka of Vidyaranya

Jivanmukti Viveka is a Sanskrit treatise on Advaita Vedanta and it is a work credited to Vidyaranya of 14th Century AD. Vidyaranya was a scholar statesman who is said to have composed Jivanmukti Viveka after renouncing the world.

According to most philosophical systems, the final emancipation is achieved after death (videha mukti). The non-dualists, however, aver that since ignorance and ego cause bondage, a sage who has transcended these limitations may be said to have attained jivanmukti (liberation in life).

In the first chapter, while discussing the nature of renunciation, the indispensable condition of liberation, Vidyaranya makes a twofold division of it:
  • The renunciation of the seeker (Vividisha Sanyasa)
  • The renunciation of the knower (Vidvat Sannyasa)
Renunciation of the seeker implies adoption of the formal insignia of a monk, engaging in scriptural study, rituals, contemplation, etc. This stage is preliminary to the second kind of renunciation, which is purely spiritual in nature. Next, the nature and scope of jivanmukti are presented along with relevant scriptural evidence.

In the second and third chapters, the means of attaining jivanmukti, viz. tattva jnana (knowledge of reality), vasana kshaya (effacement of latent desires) and manonasa (dissolution of the mind) are described.

The next chapter deals with the purpose of jivanmukti. These are preservation of knowledge, penance, absence of controversy, cessation of pain and manifestation of bliss.

The concluding chapter deals extensively with the renunciation of the knower. This renunciation is said to be conducive jivanmukti. Vidyaranya asserts that renunciation and asceticism are the prime characteristics of a Paramahamsa, the traditional term for one who has achieved gnosis.