Pravritti vs nivritti

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Aug 4 23:06:58 CDT 2002

Savithri Devaraj wrote:

> Many times patience and tolerance are treated as
> weaknesses, as tickets for further trampling, rather
> than as strengths.

Krishna Bhagawan tells Arjuna that tolerance should not be stretched to
the point of appeasement.  If one is being trampled, ones duty is to fight
the trampler.

Jagannath Chatterjee wrote:

> Cases of only pravritti or only nivritti are rare I think.

According to the tikakara, the view described as pravrtti only is that of
the Mahayajnikas or Purva Mimmasakas.  Nivrtti alone should be the norm
for Advaitins.

> The concept of
> working without any hope for return is the best way out.

The problem without having _any_ hope of return is it can very easily turn
into aimless wandering.  Thus in Advaita Vedanta, the sadhaka is
encouraged to have a purpose, to desire to reach a goal, but in such a
way as to eliminate all other desires and finally itself.

> The desire for liberation is no desire.  It does not
> lead to any bondage.

The Sanskrit word mumukshatva literally means desire for moksha, it is
pretty straightforward.  If one clings to it, it too could cause bondage.
So it should also be given up but as the last step.

> Again nivritti after pravritti may take many
> lifetimes. One has to slowly mentally detach oneself
> from this world. Everything has to be surrendered to
> God and we have to work as His agent. This way we can
> continue to do what we are doing (legitimate work of
> course!)

But there's the rub isn't it?  What is legitmate work?  We need to look to
Shruti, Smriti, and Shistachara for guidance on this.  Even then there can
be ambiguities.  The Mahabharata deal at length with this.  E.g How did
such mahatmas such as Bhishma, Vidura, Drona, and Krpa manage to end up on
the wrong side?

> Why do you confuse him even further? I would put it in this way, he is on
> the road to nivritti.

I don't think there is anything particularly confusing about this.  If I
save my pennies, I'm on the road to being a millionaire but until I have a
million dollars, I'm not a millionaire.

S.V. Subrahmaniam wrote:

> Learning giitaa, praying, performing rituals is ok, but in the final
> analysis is it not the purity of the mind that is important?  When I find
> that there is "SO MUCH" dirt in the mind and "SO MANY" habitual errors in
> me, it is very discouraging.  I just don't think I can make it this time
> around.

We can take heart that even on the battlefield of kurukshetra, it was
possible to be a stithaprajna.  This is the attitude to take:

Savithri Devaraj wrote:

> I believe I am aiming for some
> things that are way out of my reach, right at this
> moment, but certainly through constant persevering
> attempts and devotion, the Lord will give me
> conditions quite conducive to my spiritual growth.

Brahman was there long before this moment.  It will be there long
afterwards.  In fact there is never a moment when it is not within reach.
So what's the rush?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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