Who is liberated while living? Most human beings do not know what it is to be liberated while living. Liberation means experience of freedom. We know about political freedom, economic freedom, social freedom, freedom of speech and expression, but it is only the Jivan Muktas or liberated beings who experience freedom while living.
Tattva Bodha of Sri Adi Sankaracharyaji defines a Jivan Mukta as the person who—with the help of the Maha Vakya of Vedanta such as Tat Tvam Asi or Aham Brahmasmi, not contemplated by one’s own self, but under the due guidance of the Guru—has now a definite experience of a single thought that I the self is the supreme reality.
Why is a Guru needed to understand this? Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman is a simple statement. Why do the Shastras insist that it is the Guru who must tell us this? There are so many books that dish out so many explanations and interpretations, and all of us know to read either English, vernacular languages or Sanskrit and it is something simple. Why should a Guru tell us this?
If this is our question, let us consider a similar situation. The difference between our own understanding and a Guru telling this to us is the difference between the young boy who buys a khakhi dress, with a cap, lanyard, shoes, socks and badges and salutes saying “I am an IPS Officer,” and a person who writes the civil services examinations, qualifies and is initiated into the Indian Police Service with the badge and uniform and he is saluting the national flag as an officer at the seat of duty.
The person who simply reads books and reflects on the statement Aham Brahmasmi will have only a playful understanding like the boy who is excited about his newly bought police dress. The person who surrenders before a Guru, goes through the necessary discipline of purification of the mind and when the Guru finds it fit to receive the knowledge, he is initiated into the thought, “I am Brahman,” for the student to realise for himself and have that understanding.
This line of Tattva Bodha is a glorification of the achievement of a Jivan Mukta. It is a celebration of that mind which is now fit to encompass all creatures of this world as one’s own self and feel and work for their well-being.
To live is to live freely. A person who is free can function in this world without being bound by either others’ thoughts or one’s own mental, emotional, intellectual and physical conditionings. Such a realised master is the celebration of a society. His presence in the world is so rare. Their mere presence is a blessing upon this planet earth.