(Last Updated on : 14/05/2010)
Jiva as Anu is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the jiva according to the Visistadvaita Vedanta. Anu means that it is monadic in substance. This is held to be the popularly held view, and the main justification for accepting this view is that the Upanishads describe the Jiva as infinitesimal. Thus says the Mundaka Upanishad
, "This atman is anu and to be known by mind." The Svetasvatara Upanishad
describes the self as infinitely smaller than the hundredth part of the point of a hair divided a hundred times and yet it is infinite in range.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad
speaks of the exit of jiva from the body after death. The Kausitaki Brahmana Upanishad refers to its movement to the realm of the moon. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad also speaks of its return to the earth to experience the effect of karma. If the jiva were vibhu or all-pervasive as the Naiyayikas believe, such a movement is inconceivable. If something is Vibhu, it cannot have any movement. If it were of the size of the body of the individual which it occupies, as the Jainas believe, it would be subject to mutation corresponding to the sizes of the bodies it occupies. To overcome all these difficulties, the Visistadvaita Vedanta upholds the theory of jiva as anu on the strength of the Upanishadic authority.
Even though the jiva is infinitesimal, its attributive knowledge (jnana) possesses the intrinsic capacity of becoming infinite or Vibhu in the state of moksha
. This is possible after it becomes completely free from karma as has been stated in the Chandogya Upanishad. In the Visistadvaita, the jivas are classified into three types: baddhas or those in bondage, muktas or those which are free from bondage and nityas or those which are eternally free. The baddha-jivas are not omniscient as their knowledge is subject to contraction and expansion due to the influence of karma, whereas the other two types of jivas are omniscient being totally free from obstructive factors.
Thus the concept of Jiva as anu is strongly upheld by the Upanishadic texts.
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