The goals and meanings of hatha-yoga (2) – jivan-mukti
However, there was a second concept related to the aims of hatha-yoga, which did not live easily with the goal of perfection: that was jivan-mukti. This social identity is often translated as a dead man in lifeâ – or a living liberatedâ. Eliade (1958) states that this means a person living among us who has reached a point where death is meaningless to him’. An example would be Buddha, who after his enlightenment decided to stay in this world to help other people to become liberated. In this line of argument the jivan-mukti lived among us, but when his physical body died, then his soul became immortal. This was a typical understanding of the notion of jivan-mukti identity: the adept was not physically immortal, but his soul was.
The sign jivan-mukti does not originally belong to the yoga discourse (Chapple 1996). Instead it is more likely that it was an import from Buddhist or Jain traditions (Mumme 1996). Later on it played an important role in the liberation discourses of Vedanta and Tantric Saivism314. Jivan-mukti of course has a very strong symbolic meaning and induced high status. In Tantric Saivism it would signify that the adept was co-equal’ with Siva. Thus the jivan-mukti discourses belonged to the discourses of the field of liberation.
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