Karma and Sanyasa

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Aug 4 16:46:34 CDT 1998

On Tue, 4 Aug 1998, sadananda wrote:

> I agree and applies to Moksha which is out of bounds for anumaana
> but the discussion does not pertain to that.

I was responding to your argument that it is the very nature of Moksha
that demands certain conclusions.  But it is the Vedas that define the
naure of Moksha.  If there was some statement that Moksha was the state of
having an extra pair of ears then we would have to argue on that basis.
It is like in Law you have the concept of a corporation being a "person."
It would be quite reasonable to say based on the nature of personhood to
say that a corporation isn't a person.  After all it doesn't have arms,
legs etc.  But if you said that in a courtroom the argument would
considered be invalid because _as_far_as_the_law_is_concerned_, a
corporation is defined to be a person.

In the same way, Vedanta is the philosophical system that is based on
analysing the meaning of statements in the Jnanakanda of the Vedas (and by
extension, all the works based on it.)  These are its definitions and to
go beyond them you need some sort of Meta-Vedanta.

> Yes. but that renunciation is detachement at the manas level that I have
> been emphasizing from the begining.  No disagreemnt that the external will
> help.

The mental sannyasa includes the external.  The external  may not
include the mental but  anyone who is detached will by necessity not act.

> Not in principle.  Hence my quatation of B.G. sloka for definition of
> sanyaasi - Also please read my response to Nagy's question about the proof.
> Sorry - sloka does not have words that mean - giving up niyama is not
> enough.  Please read the words again.  na nir agniH and na akriyaH - not
> the one who has no agni( who does not perform vihita or niyamita karmas)
> and not the one who does not act.  The rest is interpretation.

The problem is you are reading the shloka in isolation and not as part of
a continuing conversation.  Shlokas are verses not necessarily
sentances.  Krishna Bhagavan is describing a hierarchy of renunciation.
Previously Arjun had asked which is better sannyasa or yoga?  (obviously
they refer to two different things.)  Bhagavan recommends yoga for him.
By "yoga" is meant renouncing the desire for karmaphala.  This is
the right choice _for_him_ because Bhagavan wants him to fight not
withdraw to the forest.  But as the later shlokas explain, to give up all
actions is the better course in the long run.

> The and part in the last sentence is the question!
> The next sloka in fact emphasies the above aspect.
>         nahya sanyasya sankalpo yogi bhavati kaschana.
> sankalpa is what one takes before undertaking an action or even veda vihita
> karma even including puja.


>  The very nature of the sankalpa involves the
> doership - I am the doer - including why I am doing this puja or karma etc.
> The essence there is ego of doership and Krihna's emphasis the one who has
> not given up the doership will not become yogi.  This essentially auguments
> the first part of the first sloka - What is to be renouced  is the doership
> and the fruits of the action.  External renouciation is not demanded in the
> slokas. That is again an interpretation.

If karma involves samkalpa, does it not follow that to give up samkalpa
means giving up karma?  There is not any action one can be performed save
those related to basic biological drives such as hunger, sleep etc.  which
does not involve a sense of doership.  And its a red herring to say as
some modern people do that samkalpa is only a part of "religious" acts.
Just because we do not say aham tax return karishye doesn't mean we are
not thinking it.

> Yes - no disagreement in that.  Action has to be performed and it should be
> performed with proper attitude. He had already emphasized in earlier
> chapter that  one can not aviod performing action -nahi kaschit kshaNamapi
> jatu tushTasya karma kRit - now it is only question of attitude that is
> required in changing karma into karma yoga.

And after that to turn karmayoga into karmasannyasa.  That is the meaning
of VI.3.  The renouncer of karmaphal goes far but only the renouncer of
karma itself succeeds.

> I have no disagreement in terms of sanyaasa - If external ashrama helps by
> all means.  Is the external environment essential or helpful - is the topic
> of the discussion.  That is all.

I hope I have demonstrated that it is essential.  If not please read the
works of Shankaracharya and Sureshvaracharya as they have covered this
topic extensively.

> By all means.  But the error should be addressed to the issues or not at a
> personal however one may disagrees with the issue.  Unfortunately we are
> all struggling with our egos, it is better to avoid  personal attaches. To
> that degree we grow.

I try to meet error with logical argument.   It's more efficient in the
long run than berating someone.  But when it is a persons own lack of
understanding that is the problem it should also be mentioned.  It is less
respectful to a person to hide behind a phony veneer of polteness than to
tell them the truth.

> >
> >The mere existence of other interpretations does not mean they are valid.
> True and who is judge of that.  This is where anumaana comes to help and
> used effectively in all bhashyaas when the discussion pertians to
> interpretation of the shabda pramaana.

So are you saying you are not arguing on the basis of Advaita Vedanta?  No
problem there are other types of Vedantins too.   Not to mention other

But the Advaita sampradaya has set some definite boundaries as to what
sort of interpretations _it_ considers legitimate.  It has done so on the
basis of several factors of which logic is only one albeit an important
one.  I'm not suggesting abandoning the use of logic but recognizing the
other factors too.

> > Perhaps not all but in the case of
> >the necessity of sannyasa the answer is crystal clear.  It is necessary
> >and to say otherwise is wrong.
> Sorry.   May be it is to you but not to me. To say it is, is incapatible
> with the nature of the problem.   I cannot agree with you nor with those
> interpretations that are not logical. You can say I am wrong. So be it.

Sorry I should amend that.  It is wrong from the viewpoint of Advaita
Vedanta.  Shankaracharya is so relentless in his support of the necessity
of physical sannyasa it is impossible to argue he didn't.  If you are
approaching the topic from a different viewpoint then it is another

I think Advaita Vedanta provides the most plausible and faithful
interpretation of shruti and smriti.  You evidently do not.  I don't have
a problem with that as long as you don't misrepresent your views as being
those of Advaita Vedanta.  (And if these views are shared by other members
of Chinmaya mission, then you should warn them not to do so either.)

> Agreed.  one person is a number too. and my statement obviously applies.
> Hence the logic.

I like logic.  Logic is good.  But logic is only as good as its inputs.  I
suggest to you, that by focusing solely on the Gita, you have missed some
of the reasons Advaita has for holding the views it does.  I am confident
that if you do look at the whole picture you will see it is more logical
than you may think right now.

> Couple of days back I asked Shri Murthy to join back.  Now I am wondering
> my self if I should continue in this list.  I found f. maiello's posts were
> relavent and pertain to advaita.  I am not sure any more what Advaita that
> Shankara taught versus what is the other advaita.  With due respect to all
> members, I am failing to find distinctions.

The distinction is between a body of doctrine, tradition, and thought that
has been systematically passed down from time immemorial, and a
narcissistic muddle completely lacking in depth.

There _are_ controversies in Advaita and not everyone has to think in
lock-step.  But there must be an organizing framework or else one just
goes in circles.

> If one says only discuss
> Shankaras texts and his commentaries - I have no problem with the scope,
> even though it is restricted but well defined. From my personal growth, I
> find the list serve becoming too restrictive.  I have no problems even with
> personal attaches nor disagreements. I take only what I like.  But
> restrictions also curtails the vichaara required.

The problem with all these spacy new age types isn't that they have
different thoughts, it is that they mostly fail to think at all.  sloppy,
vague, uninformed posts do not count as vichara and I think they diminish
the value of the list more than anything.

On the other hand well thought out "purvapaksha" arguments which show a
grasp of the issues are quite interesting to me and I'm happy to see them
on the list.

>  Hence from my point the
> utility of the list serve is diminishing. With due considerations, I am
> also deciding to retire from this list.  I request Ravi to remove my name
> immediately from the list.

This is sad.  Obviously you found something of value in Advaita or you
wouldn't have taken it up.  Now seemingly it hasn't turned out to be quite
what you expected.  But have you really given it a fair chance?  Take a
look at the wealth of literature on the topic of karma and sannyasa.
Sureshvaracharyas Sambandhavartika is a good work on the topic.  I'm sure
after you read it you'll agree that the Advaita view is the right one.

In general, following a sampradaya will be more beneficial than going your
own way however tempting that may seem.  Advaita Vedanta wouldn't have
lasted as long nor achieved the prominence it did if this wasn't true.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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