[Advaita-l] Sankara on sannyAsa for Steadiness in GYAna (was Re: Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 5)

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 14 18:20:44 CDT 2009

Dear Shyamji,  

I acknowledge your great scholarship but I have seen that in the maze of different interpretations  and in the midst of rigorous argumentations sometimes big scholars overlook the simple concepts. While I value the Bhashyas by the Mahatmas (personally I prefer Adi Sankara's  and Sreedhara's bhashyas though I read those of Madhusudana, Ramanuja, Abhinavagupta and others) there is no real substitute for reading the Bhagavada Gita as told by the Lord himself, in not too tough a language. Sometimes all of us need to leave everything aside and also leave the interpretations of the other Mahatma's and then to read the Bhagavad gita and try to unnderstand what the Lord says to us directly. He did not use too many words to tell us what Niskama Karma is and why he (I think nobody can be more Jnani than Him) works even if it is not necessary for Him  to do work.


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Wed, 10/14/09, Shyam <shyam_md at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Shyam <shyam_md at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Sankara on sannyAsa for Steadiness in GYAna (was Re: Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 5)
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 7:15 AM

Pranams Sunil-ji

You write
"Abandonment of Karma in the Jnanamarga is abandonment of Karma for fruits. Niskama Karma is not considered as Karma here. If one continues Sakama Karma then  he cannot be a true Sannyashi even if he has been initiated into Sannyasha."

My comment:
"Nishkama karma" is karmayoga - involves performance of actions not for one's own sake but dedicating them to Ishwara, by relinquishing of one's attachment to the outcome of such karma and acceptance of the resultant karmaphala as Bhagawan's prasada - ishwara arpana buddhi and prasada buddhi. Such an attitude is indispensible for the attainment of chittashuddi so the mind can be made singlepointed in the pursuit of jnana.

However karmayoga and sannyasa are diametrically opposed - "like the mountain and the mustard seed or the east coast and the west coast" are the analogies that Shankara uses to drive home this point. 
In his words: 
"Karma-yoga, which has erroneous knowledge for its source, is IMPOSSIBLE for the knower of the Self who has become freed from false knowledge" 
"In the case of the knower of the Self, since there has occured a cessation of false knowledge, Karma-yoga, which is based on erroneous knowledge, will become IMPOSSIBLE".
"..."Since the avidya of the SELFKNOWER has been abolished he CANNOT undertake karmayoga that is rooted in error"...
"Karmayoga is out of question for the self-knower..and is different from the TOTAL RENUNCIATION of a self-knower"..

Please refer to Pts 5 and 6 of my series for a more detailed explanation and the sources. Hence, to equate vidwat sannyasa and nishkamya karma is without any basis whatsoever. The novel term "karmayogi sannyasi" that some have prattled around - is thus quite frankly an oxymoron. Shankara himself painstakingly clarifies that when he talks about vidwat sannyasa, i.e. total renunciation of actions for a knower so that it may be conducive to jnananishta and mukti - the only sannyasi he has in mind is the paramahamsa (and not the kutichaka, bahudhaka and hamsa).

Sannyasa - in this context - is not an ashrama that one has to "actively" adopt - by investing in some ochre robes,etc - but a repudiation of one's mundane lifestyle - it represents a natural and inevitable culmination of the effect of one's gradual withdrawal from karma - because all karma regardless of motive have avidya alone as the hetu - and jnananishta is impossible for such a knower. When we untie a knot, the thread doesnt "embrace" a straight position - it becomes impossible for the thread to assume any other - this is the same way with regards to jnani and vidwat sannyasa. 

Again, a person having acquired brahmanishta i.e. a jivanmukta - can be seen to be engaged in activity - which is nothing but an unimpeded expression of the Divine Order - his own ahankara having been extinguished in toto. 
If He can then why not a knower (without jnananishta) too? To use an example, a person lost in a dense forest - per chance finds - that some kind Soul has provided signs for getting him safely out - he thus "knows" the way out - and once out, he may choose to go north south east west - but if he insists on that freedom even before he is actually out of the forest, then he will undoubtedly ensure remaining lost in that samsaric forest.

Trust this clarifies
Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah

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