[Advaita-l] karmasrishTi vAda

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 09:43:27 CST 2016

Gaudapda in slokas 14-23 of alAtashAnti prakaraNa of his mANDUkya kArika,
refutes a certain group of dvaita philosophers who hold that the world was
created according to the laws of Karma and therefore believe that karmic
law is absolutely real.

Gaudapada offers 6 possibilities for how this can be held to be true by
dvaitavAdins, and goes on to say how each one of the 6 suffers from logical
defects. This method of refutation is called the विकल्प method.

6 possibilities for मूलकारणं, or ultimate cause of creation are put forward.
1) कर्म: Here by the word कर्म, कर्मफलं or पुण्यपापफलं is offered as the
मूलकारणं for creation. It is because of कर्म that this world and the
jIvasharIras are created, they say.  Gaudapada uses the word हेतुः for
कर्म. He says calling कर्म as मूलकारणं for srishTi won't work, because
where did the हेतुः (= कर्म) come from? कर्म cannot accidently come, nor
can Bhagavan arbitrarily create and assign कर्म. Therefore, it must be
admitted that कर्म  are generated out of actions performed by a कर्ता, who
needs to have a शरीरं. Thus, कर्म cannot be the ultimate cause, the
मूलकारणं for creation, as a शरीर is required for कर्म to be generated.

2) शरीरं - to remedy this, the dvaitavAdins say, let us say that शरीरं is
the मूलकारणं for creation. Gaudapada uses the word फलं for शरीरं. The birth
of the body, the type of body born, etc are not accidentally created, nor
does Bhagavan arbitrarily determine this. The birth of the शरीरं is
determined by कर्म, so शरीरं cannot be मूलकारणं for creation.

3) Now the dvaitavAdins say let us say, कर्म and शरीरं are mutually cause
and effect. Gaudapada says this is illogical like saying father has
produced the son and son has produced the father. So कर्म and शरीरं as
mutual cause and effect also cannot be held to be the मूलकारणं for creation.

4) The dvaitavAdin then says, let us say कर्म and शरीरं are simultaneous
products (युगपत् संभव:) from which  creation originates.  GaudapAda says,
if they are simultaneous, they cannot have cause effect relationship.
Therefore, you would require another cause for कर्म and शरीरं. So
simultaneously also, they cannot held to be मूलकारणं for creation.

5) The dvaitavAdin, feeling cornered, says कर्म and शरीरं form a
cause-effect chain. That is, karmas produced using the previous body are
the cause of the next body. That new body performs new karmas which are the
cause for a newer body and so on, and so forth. Thus, a chain of कर्म and
शरीरं can be called the मूलकारणं for creation according to him. Gaudapada
says this is fine, but the question we are considering is "what is the
मूलकारणं for srishTi", that is what is the original cause? If there is a
chain of karma and sharIra, with each one acting as the cause of the next
one, what is the first, original cause? That question is not answered.

6) Totally frustrated now, the dvaitavAdin says, I say that कर्म and शरीरं
form an अनादि cause-effect chain, so the question "what is the मूलकारणं?"
need not be answered. It is an illegitimate question. Gaudapada says there
are several defects in this theory:

a) When you say कर्म - शरीरं - chain (प्रवाह:) is अनादि, you are using an
adjective, अनादि to qualify the three-word phrase: "अनादि कर्म शरीर
प्रवाह:". Which of the three is qualified  as अनादि? Not the first, because
कर्म, has a beginning - it is created at a point in time from a sharIram.
Not the second, because sharIra also has a birth, a beginning due to karma.
Not the third, because there is no such thing called chain, a प्रवाह, other
than the individual elements in the chain. It is only a concept in the
mind. A family is a concept, it is not a thing. A society is a concept, it
is not a thing. Similarly the chain is only a concept, not a thing.
Therefore there is no "thing" to which the qualifier "beginning-less" can
be applied. Therefore, a beginning-less chain doesn't exist.

b) This is actually discussed a little later in kArika 4.30. Let us assume,
for argument's sake, that a beginning-less chain does exist (अभ्युपेत्य
वाद:). Does that beginning-less chain have an end or not? If it is
beginning-less and endless, there is no possibility of moksha, अनिर्मोक्ष
प्रसंग:. Why waste time on vedAnta shravaNa, manana, nidhidhyAsana? All
moksha shAstra will be redundant or शास्त्र आनर्थक्य प्रसंग:. If it is
beginning-less, but has an end, then the end of this chain will be the
beginning of mokshA. Now, Gaudapada argues, whatever has a beginning has an
end also, जातस्य ध्रुवो मृत्यु:, thus a mokshA which has a beginning, must
also have an end. Of what use is such a temporary moksha? This also leads
to अनिर्मोक्ष प्रसंग:. Hence, even if somehow a beginning-less chain of
karma and sharIra has an end, the moksha thus gained from such a chain is
not a real moksha.

Therefore, by the theory of karma, creation cannot be explained. Without
explaining a cause, you cannot talk about an effect or a product. And if
you cannot talk about a product, you cannot talk about creation. Thus,
Gaudapada argues: *There is no creation. There is only Brahman.*

The last question asked by the pUrva pakshi is - O advaitin, if according
to you, there is no creation, why do all the Upanishads talk of creation?
GaudapAda's answer in the second and third chapter is, really speaking
there is no creation. However, a student is not prepared to accept there is
no creation, from the beginning. Like a new-born child is not able to eat
solid food, similarly if an unprepared student is told that there is no
creation, he will dismiss it as untrue. Therefore, Veda compromises and
temporarily accepts creation. This temporary acceptance is अध्यारोप:. Once
the student is ready, the real teaching is revealed to him - There is no
creation at all, अपवादः. Therefore, the ultimate teaching of vedAnta is

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