[Advaita-l] Question on Mayavada
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Nov 5 02:58:43 CDT 2010
The nature of Atma/Brahman is 'NaiShkarmyam', actionlessness. This is the
goal the Vedanta holds for the aspirant. While the Atma is 'niShkriyam',
the state of ignorance is marked by action, the propensity to action,
seeking a goal, with a view to fulfill what one thinks one is 'apUrNa.' By
taking the aspirant to NaiShkarmyam, the Vedanta is enabling him to realize
While Atman/Brahman is ever free of action, the 'other', namely the anAtman
is never free of action. Even when one chooses to remain doing nothing, by
withdrawing the sense and motor organs, and perhaps the mind too, yet,
action goes on in the prANic,metabolic level. This can never be got rid
of. Then how indeed would one attain 'naiShkarmyam'? The answer of Vedanta
is: Realize your Self to be the NiShkriya Atma, the non-doer, akartA. And
the karma-ridden kShetraml, anAtma, to be unreal (BhUta-prakRti-mokSham of
the last verse of the 13th chapter of the Gita).
The Gita teaches that even a sarva-karma sannyAsi, a Jnani, will be engaged,
or rather the body-mind-sense-motor organs apparatus will be engaged in
'shAreeram kevalam karma' (BG 4.21) in order to maintain the apparatus.
Even this action, Shankara says, will go on without the Jnani identifying
with it. So, the key to Naishkarmya siddhi is the realization 'na aham
kartA' along with, of course, its counterpart 'na aham bhoktA'. This is
what is called Self-realization in Vedanta. This is what is meant by 'sarva
karma sannyAsa' as established by Shankara in BG 5.13 and 18.12. In this
latter bhashya Shankara says: ataH paramARtha-darshinaH eva
asheShakarma-sannyAsitvam sambhavati, avidyAdhyAropitatvAt Atmani
kriyAkArakaphalAnAm.....na tu ajnasya asheShakarmasannyAsaH sambhavati.
This is the meaning of true sannyAsa/i, a word used in the verse itself. *One
will gain great clarity of this by reading the bhashyam of BG 5.13 together
[Shri Shyam Subramaniam has written a fine exposition of the BG 5.13 in the
Advaitin forum recently by adding a subsequent elucidation on the finer
aspects of the Bhashyam which indeed makes a fine study of the topic along
with BG 18.12 bhashyam where the striking similarities between the two
bhashyams can be appreciated.]
By the method of anvaya-vyatireka Shankara firmly establishes that: If
Self-realization is there, then total karma sannyAsa is there. If Atma
jnanam is not there, such a total renunciation of action is impossible.
Thus, the Vedantic 'total/absolute renunciation of actions' is not
physically not doing certain actions; it is the aparoksha Atma jnanam
characterized by 'aham akartA'.
The author of the interpolated verses has quite evidently not understood
this position of Vedanta. And that is the reason why he says 'this (asat)
sastram alone teaches the giving up of all sva-karma' which position is
completely at variance with the stated position of Vedanta that we have seen
described in the foregoing. To reiterate, the Vedantic 'giving up' of
actions is not more physical in nature but the gaining of Atma jnanam, the
presence of karma on notwithstanding. In the third chapter of the Gita the
Lord even instructs that the Jnani remain in the world, amidst ajnanis,
doing 'ALL' actions. The fourth chapter has a verse, with this jnani in
mind 'karmaNi abhi-pravRtto api' (4.20). The prefix 'abhi' means:
excessively, intensely, etc.
Shankara, while explaining the subsequent verse 4.24 (brahmArpaNam....) has
this jnani who is engaging in karma, in mind: He concludes the 4.24 bhashyam
with the words: bAhya chEShTaa mAtreNa karmaapi viduSho akarma sampadyate
[So, here as well, in the case of one who has his ideas of distinctions
among accessories like ladle etc., actions and results eliminated by the
knowledge of Brahman, even activites which are merely external movements
amount to inaction. ] Shankara makes it very clear in this passage:
1. There is undoubtedly action at the outside/physical level
2. This invariably involves the sense/motor organs and mind of the Jnani
3. This is confirmed by Shankara by the quoting of verses 3.28 and 5.8
both of which teach the interaction of the Jnani's sense/motor organs with
4. That the Jnani remaining with the firm convicttion 'I am not the doer
even when the organs interact with the objects'
5. This means that the Jnani sees actions, organs, objects and yet knows
that it is unreal
6. This is the NaiShkarmya siddhi of Vedanta where in spite of body-mind
apparatus engaged in less or more of whatever karma, the Jnanam that one is
akartA is firm.
[While reading this bhashyam of BG 4.24, I found it a fine case study for
the concept of 'hyper-linking' of Shankara's bhashyams that Sri Vidyashankar
Sundaresan had expressed before. Shankara has naturally hyperlinked his
Bhashyams and in this particular bhashyam He cites three very important BG
verses as cross references. If anyone who ignores these corss references,
he most likely loses the import of what Shankara is conveying in that
lengthy bhashyam. One will most likely end up seeing only the 'brahmabhAva'
of the Jnani depicted in the earlier portion of the bhashyam and lose sight
of the 'dehadhAraNam'aspect which is what Shankara is drawing his readers'
attention to thru those crucial cross-reference citations.]
The above note itself contains the reply to the other aspect:: jiva brahma
aikyam. Atma/Brahman, the Nishkriya tattvam, is the kshetrajna while the
kriya-ridden anAtma is the kshetram. There is only one kshetrajna Brahman.
The teaching of the 13th chapter of the Gita is this. Brahman alone owing
to self-ignorance appears as the jiva, asarva, and Brahman alone, owing to
self-knowledge, giving up the asarva bhAva, 'attains' to its native
sarva-bhAva. This teaching of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 is
explained by Shankara in the bhashyam.
So, the author of the interpolated verses is not aware of this Vedantic
position about the One Only Real nature of Brahman where there is no place
for anyone called a jiva. Therefore while labouring under the delusion that
he is indicting Advaitam, he has actually ended up denigrating Vedanta as
And by comparing Vedanta to Bauddham,he has only exhibited his ignorance of
both the systems.
Om Tat Sat
On Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 3:54 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> "mayavadam asat sastram" describes two characteristics of advaitam:
> - total renounciation of actions (including that done with dualtistic
> - oneness of jiva and paramatma
> One can say that the verse is an interpolation but cannot say that there is
> a misunderstanding about advaitam. Right?
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