154. kAntA

Ravisankar Mayavaram msr at ISC.TAMU.EDU
Sat Nov 7 19:29:55 CST 1998

154. kAntA

SHE who is brilliant. The word kAntA is derived from the root kAn
which means brilliant. SHE is brilliant and bewitching. SHE
assumes the form of madanagopala and bewitches the world. It is
said in the shruti (tripura tApini upaniShad) that the primordial
lalitA assumes the male form of Lord Krishna to bewitch the world
with music of His flute.

AUM kAntAyai namaH

>From  a translation of
shrI shankara bhAshyam of shrI lalita trishatI

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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>From  Sat Nov  7 22:40:57 1998
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From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>
Subject: Re: SankarAcArya's bhagavad gItA bhAshya: 2. 11 - Part III.
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Ravisankar Mayavaram wrote:

> If a Self-Knower, acts without the desire for fruits, that is
> nishkAmya karma. My doubt is why should action happen at all?
> What propels the action? Is it the sense, that this body is born
> as kShatriya (as in the case of Janaka), so the action of ruling
> the kingdom should be done to set an perfect example to the
> world?  Does this not imply the Self-knower indirectly identifies
> himself with the body, hence, it contradict the realization?  Or
> the action happens only to the unrealized audience who are
> witnessing it?

The self-knower does not identify himself with the body. Two
explanations are possible here:

1. In the upadeshasAhasrI (UpSa), sha.nkara raises the pUrvapaxa how
there can be actions when the ego is destroyed, refer UpSa 4.2. Then he
replies in the UpSa 4.4, that the present experience is due to past
action and has resulted in the present body. Hence, the destruction of
ego affects only the other karma-s (namely, sa.ncita and Agami) and
there is no contradiction. An example would be that a potters wheel
would continue to whirl for sometime, even after the potter has stopped
rotating it. Or, a man mistaking a rope for a snake will continue
trembling for a short while even after realizing that it's a rope. Thus
the "setting of an example" to people is due to the GYAnis prArabdha
karma, where he must have wished for setting an example to the people.
That is taking place now. It's not a conscious effort on his part, after

2. A more convincing answer (in my opinion) is given by Sureshvara in
his Naishhkarmyasiddhi (NaiSi). He flatly says that there is no
intellect, body etc for the enlightened man. The reason is very simple.
By the method of anvaya-vyatireka, we can show _even_ _before_
enlightenment the intellect, etc is not a property of the self. So,
obviously "after enlightenment" there is no question of their existence
in Atman. So, it is the ignorance of someone (namely ourselves) which
makes it seem _as_ _if_ a GYAni acts. See NaiSi 4.50. However,
Sureshvara also quotes the other view point (as by sha.nkara) and says
that explanation is also acceptable. But, Sureshvara's explanation  may
not help too much in understanding the BG bhAshhya, since sha.nkara uses
the other view point.

Anyway, in the aporAxanubhUti, sha.nkara flatly says that there is no
prArabdha for the GYAni. See verse 90. He points out that just as waking
from a dream, the world ceases to exist for the GYAni. He says:

dehasya-api prapa.ncatvAt.h prArabdhAvasthitiH kutaH |
aGYAni-jana-bodhArthaM prArabdhaM vakti vai shrutiH |

The body also [occuring] from phenomenal existence, how can prArabdha
exist [after GYAna]? Only for instructing the ignorant people, the
shruti talks of prArabdha.

That's one of my favorite verses in that text.

Another interesting point from that text: He points out that the muNDaka
upanishhad says that "xIyante cha-asya karmANi" or all actions are
destroyed. If prArabdha were to remain (among sa.ncita, Agami and
prArabdha) even after enlightenment, then the upanishhad would not have
used the plural "karmANi", it should have used the dual, namely karme!
See verse 98. These verses from the aparoxAnubhUti are excellent and
must be read very carefully (verses 89-99).

Of course, some scholars doubt the ascription of this book to sha.nkara
(e.g., Sri Saccidanandendra Saraswati Swamigal).

I hope I have not confused you even more :-). In any case, this is the
perfect time to point out that the eka-jIva vAda will solve all problems
:-). Read the siddhAntabindu by Sri Madhusudana Saraswati for the best
explanation of this vAda. The vedAntasidhhAntamuktAvali by prakAshAnanda
is somewhat technical and takes too much time.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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>From ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU Sun Nov  8 17:28:39 1998
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Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 17:28:39 -0800
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From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU>
Subject: SankarAcArya's bhagavad gItA bhAshya: 2. 11 - Part IV.
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Continued from yesterday's post.



Translation -

When it is said, "as was done by your ancestors, in ancient times"
(pUrvaiH pUrvataraM kRtam - 4. 15) or "through actions alone did Janaka
and others attain perfection" (karmaNA eva hi saMsiddhim AsthitA
janakAdayaH - 3. 20), this has to be distinguished and understood. How? If
at the very beginning, you grant that Janaka and others were realized
beings (tattvavidaH), but still engaged in works, (then it should be
inferred that) this was for the welfare of the world (lokasangraha), and
that they attained perfection having realized the knowledge that, "the
qualities subsist in the qualities" (guNA guNEshu vartante - 3. 28). The
meaning is that, although qualified to renounce all works, they did not
renounce action, and perfected themselves through works.

On the other hand, (if one says that Janaka and others were not
Self-knowers), the meaning is that, by means of action dedicated to
ISvara, perfection is reached in the form of purifying the intellect
(sattva-Suddhi), and (followed by) the dawn of knowledge. The same meaning
is given by the Lord, in "for purifying the intellect, Yogins perform
action" (sattvaSuddhaye karma kurvanti - 5. 11). Having said that, "by
dedicating to Him (worshipping Him with) one's own actions, man attains
perfection" (svakarmaNA tam abhyarcya siddhiM vindati mAnavaH - 18. 46),
the Lord reaffirms only the discipline of knowledge (jnAna-nishThA) for
such a perfected man, by means of, "The way the perfected being
reaches Brahman" (siddhiM prApto yathA brahma - 18. 50) and the rest.

Therefore, in the teaching of the gItA, liberation is solely by knowledge
of the Truth, not through combination (of knowledge) with action - this is
the definite purport. We will demonstrate this meaning suitably with
reference to the text.

Notes -

The above passage should be read very closely. Ravi's questions in
response to the previous post in this series (part III) are very nicely
answered here, and in a nutshell. Greater elaboration of this relationship
and contrast between action and knowledge is found in the commentary on
the bRhadAraNyaka upanishad, in various places.

SankarAcArya, as a true philosopher, takes one question very seriously,
namely, "how does one know?" If we think about it, it should be very clear
that only a jnAnI knows that he is a jnAnI, the rest of us have no access
to any means of knowledge to decide this issue. Therefore, when an example
of Janaka is given in the teaching, tradition-minded compulsion would
dictate that he was a jnAnI, almost by definition. Still, one should allow
for the possibility that Janaka was also an ignorant person. This, in
turn, helps us to extract a dual sense, which is useful for the sAdhaka.
If we say a jnAnI acts, we may also explain this in terms of welfare of
the world, or if we say that one who acts is not a jnAnI, then we are
shown how the discipline of action helps in the transition to the
discipline of knowledge. Once we keep this central question in mind, "how
does one know?," all the complications simply rearrange themselves in a
self-consistent manner. The jnAnI does not think that he acts, and the
jnAnI also knows that he is the sole Atman, and that only the Atman
exists. It follows that the jnAnI does not see any action at all. A
perfect jnAnI has no identification with action, because the jnAnI does
not identify with the body. It is we who see the action, and link it with
the body, which we think belongs to the jnAnI. Once we see action, we ask
for an explanation, and "welfare of the world" is one reason given by

For the next few verses, the commentary takes the shape of explaining each
word in the text of the gItA.

Translation -

Arjuna had become subject to wrong knowledge (mithyAjnAna) and had become
confused in regard to his own law, so that he was sinking in an ocean of
sorrow. Through compassion, and seeing that there was no means other than
Self-knowledge to lift Arjuna from this predicament, the Lord, Vasudeva,

Verse and translation -

"aSocyAn anvaSocas tvaM prajnAvAdAMSca bhAshase |
gatAsUn agatAsUMSca na anuSocanti paNDitAH || 2. 11 ||

aSocyAn - those who are not to be grieved over,
anvaSocaH tvam - you have lamented,
prajnAvAdAn ca - and (also) words of wisdom
bhAshase - you speak.
gatAsUn - those who have gone
agatAsUn ca - and those who have not gone (those who are living),
na anuSocanti - do not grieve for
paNDitAH - the wise.

You have lamented for those who are not to be grieved over, and you also
speak words of wisdom. The wise do not feel sorrow for those who are dead
nor for those who are living.

Translation (Commentary) -

Bhishma, Drona and the like are not to be lamented over. Their conduct
here has been virtuous, and from the view of Supreme Truth, they are
eternal. Still, you have lamented over them, thinking, "these people will
die, due to my actions, but without them, what will I do with the
pleasures of a kingdom etc?" The sense is that you (Arjuna) lament for
those who are indestructible from the perspective of Supreme Truth,
therefore you appear to be stupid. Yet, you also speak words of wisdom.
The sense is that, like one insane, you (Arjuna) seem to mix the
contradictory qualities of confusion and wisdom in yourself. The wise,
those who know the Self, do not grieve for those whose prANas have gone
(the dead) and those whose prANas have not (the living). "paNDA" (wisdom)
is the understanding of the Atman, those who have it are the paNDitas. Re:
the Sruti, "Having gained wisdom" (pANDityaM nirvidya - bRhadAraNyaka 3.
5. 1).


To be continued ...

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
List archives : http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/advaita-l.html

>From  Sun Nov  8 21:10:48 1998
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Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 21:10:48 -0500
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To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
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From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <ramakris at EROLS.COM>
Subject: Importance of Karma
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I read something very interesting in "Puja: A smArta Ritual", by G.

page 80:

Often the term karmakANDa is used in a pejorative sense, implying that
practices are being followed blindly by tradition without an
understanding of their significance. There are several reasons for this
bad reputation of karmakANDa. A traditional exponent of ShAktism S.C.V.
Bhattacharya regards the "eagerness to avoid labour" as the root cause
for the "unswerving faith in such shAstras as seek to establish the
superiority of GYAna kANDa", as the daily duties prescribed by texts
"are doubtless troublesome things". But the renunciation of karma as
advertised by devotees is "renunciation of the SandhyA prayers, daily
and occasional worship of the deity ... but not of such things as the
maintainence of wife and children, earning and spending money, eating
...". The scriptures do not enjoin the abandonment of obligatory rites
such as the daily pUjA or substitution by a ***so-called "symbolic" or
mental performance, to which only trained people are entitled who have
the mental capacity to perform such worship***. (emphasis mine)

The above passage is worth reading multiple times. Bhattacharya wrote in
the early parts of this century, so I guess things haven't changed too
much from that time. Not to mention of course, putting oneself on a
pedestal and actually denigrating karma and people who perform them. As
put succintly by Vivekananda, who I have lot of respect for, "99% of the
people who think they are sAttvik are steeped in the deepest of tamas"
(told by a friend to me). Remarkably perceptive observation!


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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