Karma and Sanyasa

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Aug 8 12:43:29 CDT 1998

On Thu, 6 Aug 1998, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> But, is there a *definition* of moksha ?  By defining, we are limiting it
> to be bound within the definition. But moksha is ananta, the infinite, the
> undefinable bliss. I do not think the Upanishhads ever defined moksha in
> terms of the explainable. If it is, I would certainly like to see
> reference to it.

Vidyashankar has provided it.  No definition of it will be
all-encompassing but we must have some idea of it or we wouldn't even be
able to talk about it.  And this idea we get from Shruti not from logic or

> As I understand it (again, I would request members to look at this
> rationally and ponder over it): mental sannyAsa (renunciation) is all
> there is. Does it make a difference whether the entity wears a grihastha
> garb or a sannyAsi garb ? In what way are the grihastha or sannyAsi garbs
> different than say a mole on the cheek ?

By physical sannyasa it is not meant certain clothes, items etc.  What is
meant is the renunciation of action.

> The only renunciation that the scriptures talk of is the mental
> renunciation (MahAnArAyanopanishhad, kaivalyopanishhad). We can arrive at
> that from various routes (i) by doing nitya karmAs in a sense of
> dispassion, (ii) by complete and unqualified surrender to personal God
> with the firm belief that the personal God will lead us to moksha.

In many places the shastras talk of the physical renunciation of actions.
Again, Vidyashankar has mentioned some.  See also Ishopanishad where it
says by karma one can live in this world for 100 years but these worlds
are "asura" and the people there kill the self.

> I fully agree with that interpretation of the essence of gitA. But let us
> also keep this in perspective. There are karmAs designated for any one who
> is embodied (or for anyone who feels that he/she is embodied and who
> thinks that the physical form is the boundary for that entity). For a
> grihastha, there are nitya karmAs (shhaTkarmANi dine dine), for a
> sannyAsa, there are other karmAs designated. No one can give up action as
> long as they think they are limited by the embodiment.  If we accept that,
> the whole debate may be unnecessary.

All a sannyasi is required to do is the minimum necessary to keep his body
functioning.  A householder on the other hand is required to do
more--which requires the notion of "I am doing."  Yesterday was Shravani or
Balev when Brahmans change their yagnopavits.  I took the morning off from
work but I couldn't just go off on a whim.  I had to inform my boss etc.
A householder is too tightly bound in this web of obligations to be able
to claim to renounce anything.

> Yes, everything involves action. One cannot deny it. Even a sannyAsa has
> to perform action (may be different from a tax return, but still action
> nevertheless)

But the key is only the _minimum_ amount of action.

> But who is this renouncer of karma (action) ?

See Vidyashankars answer to this.

> In my understanding, renounciation is mental renounciation only. Quite
> often it has been derided on this list with sarcastic comments like
> "... People have mentally renounced everything, but they can enjoy the
> paycheques etc ...".

Because most of the people who think mental sannyasa absolves them of
responsibility are fools and deserve derision.

Renounciation is mental you are right.  But the mental renunciation
includes the physical.

>  Mental renounciation or renounciation is a gradual
> evolution process. As the entity evolves into that stage, the entity may
> take the external garb of sannyAsa, or may not. But that is not
> renounciation yet. The entity's evolution has to be such that it does not
> make any difference whatever garb that is worn, how other people view that
> entity, the results of the actions do not matter... Are other people's
> judgement on this matter any important ? No, not for a true renounciate.

A high school freshman might dream of going to medical school.  But until
he graduates from medical school he cannot call himself a doctor.  Neither
can he say to his history teacher "I didn't do my homework because I'm
going to be a doctor and won't need history."

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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