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

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 15 16:49:04 CDT 2009

My intention was not to devalue the Sannyaashi at all. Sannyaasha is the ultimate Aashrama for all. The Grihashaashrami also cannot be devalued as it sustains the society  as well as the  Sannyaashi and  a grihashthaarami too can achieve what a sannyaashi can do. This is so far as  the theory goes. I do agree that ultimately the Sannyaasha has an edge over the Grihashthaashrama as in the former there are no pitfalls and in the latter there are pitfalls as the Vishayas can drag one into them at any time. The sannyaashi is on the foolproof path with jnaana-nishthaa and on his way he accepts the inevitable manifestations of his karmaphal (due to his past karma), with an attitude to bear them all coolly, without really being affected by them.


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Thu, 10/15/09, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Sankara on sannyAsa for Steadiness in GYAna (was Re: Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 5)
To: "Advaita List" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 1:06 PM

> Simalarly a Jnani does niskama karma as he is a samadrasti and he realises everybody and everything is Brahman and he had overcome his self-interest. Now if one starts doing Niskama karma, say because one's guru advised one to do so or one wanted to follow the Bhagavad Gita without really realizing the merits of it, even then a time will come when he would automatically start doing Niskama karma, call it by force of habit if you like. Eventually he would realise the merit of doing the niskama karma and that he is no different from others and thus the Jnana will dawn on him.
> Regards,

No arguments about how jnAna will eventually dawn upon the doer of nishkAma karma, but there is still a distinction to be appreciated.


The jnAnI who seems to perform nishkAma karma is not really performing any karma at all, because he has transcended karma. There are many documented cases of other jnAnis who are seen to not perform any karma at all for extended periods of time and who often get labeled as being mad, by so-called "normal" society.


In contrast, someone who performs nishkAma karma because that is the advice given by the Gita and the Guru has still not transcended karma. He or she is on the path to cittaSuddhi, but I still fail to see how such karmaphala sannyAsa rUpa karma yoga = jnAna nishThA.


Close to the beginning of bhagavAn's upadeSa in the gItA, we are told of two nishThA-s, "jnAnayogena sAMkhyAnAm karmayogena yoginAm". Now, performing action without desire for (or attachment to) its fruits is necessarily a part of karmayoga, but please note that SrIkRshNa is clearly drawing a distinction between those who are steadfast in jnAna and those who perform karma without attachment to its rewards.


Please also see how Sankara bhagavatpAda's bhAshya describes the jnAna nishThA -AtmAnAtma-vishaya viveka vijnAnavatAM brahmacaryASramAd eva kRtasaMnyAsAnAM vedAnta vijnAna suniScitArthAnAM paramahaMsa parivrAjakANAM brahmaNy eva avastithAnAm - not only is the saMnyAsa of the paramahaMsa parivrAjaka privileged here, there is the additional qualification that such a person has renounced everything directly from the student stage itself, without ever getting involved in family and social life through marriage, firm in the knowledge of the vedAnta and ever established in brahman. 


While I haven't been following every single detail in this debate on sannyAsa and jnAna and mukti so far, I believe that this understanding of what is called jnAna nishThA (along with the implicit adhikAra bheda for a karmI, a karmayogI and a jnAnI) is getting lost in the discussion.


Yes, theoretically, jnAna can dawn at any time on anybody, but most contemporary expressions of this stance always seem to devalue the traditional sannyAsASrama. Why?Moreover, there is an intrinsic value judgement being made against those who have formally renounced and wear ochre. Why?


If there were really no strong correlation between jnAna and/or jnAna nishThA and saMnyAsa, then why does anybody need the formal institution of renunciation in the first place? Why should there even be a vidhi in the SAstra regarding saMnyAsa? On whom is that vidhi actually operable? Why should Sankara bhagavatpAda club saMnyAsa along with the qualities of Sama, dama etc in the bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya? 


vijnAya prajnAM kurvIta - prajnA kAraNa sAdhanAni saMnyAsa-Sama-dama-uparama-titikshA-samAdhAnAni kuryad ity arthaH. 



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