[Advaita-l] A Brief Introduction to pUrva mImAmsA - 1 (a FAQ)

Sanjay Verma sanjay1297 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 4 03:22:05 CST 2004

Pranam to all...

S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

3. Why study PM?

There are at least two motivating factors to the study of PM on this
(1) The chief pUrvapaksha (objection) to Shankaran VedAnta is PM. It is
reasonable that without understanding the pUrvapaksha, it would be
impossible to properly understand the siddhAnta (conclusion). 
(2) Non-sannyAsins are not really qualified to study VedAnta, and can
(and ought to) only study PM, which is considered a stepping stone to
studying VedAnta. 

4. How does PM fit into the practical aspect of advaita VedAnta?

The goal of the Vedas is Self-realization. This can be achieved only by
a study of VedAnta, which demands pre-requisites of the student, which
are: viveka (discrimination - between the permanent and transient),
vairAgya (dispassion - to objects that are transient), shhaT-sampat
(six virtues, which are - shama (calmness), dama (Self-restraint),
uparati (Self-withdrawal), titikshA (forbearance), shraddhA (Conviction
- in the way), samAdhAna (self-settledness)), and mumukshutva (Yearning
for Liberation). If one does not possess the pre-requisites, then one
is ineligible to study VedAnta (such study will not lead to
Self-realization), and ought to practise dharma in order to develop the
aforesaid qualities. The practise of dharma is aided by a thorough
study of dharma, which forms the subject matter of PM. 

3)  I believe there are numerous examples in the Advaita tradition of persons who were not Sannyasins (IF by this one means physical renunciation as an alternative to the 4 ashramas) but still exemplars of the qualities which the sadhaka in Advaita must cultivate (one need go no further than King Janaka). Indeed a householder is also "eligible" for practicing Advaita, though the manner in which he/she pursues it would clearly be different than a full-time physical renunciant. In his book "Freedom Through Inner Renunciation", Roger Marcaurelle discusses in depth whether renunciation is a necessary prerequisite to liberation, a final outcome of liberation, or if liberation can be experienced/attained by persons in other ashramas. The conclusion of the book is that true renunciation according to Adi Shanaracharya is renouncing desire and the sense of doership and may be practiced by sadhakas of any ashrama.

4) Similar to the issue in #3: While the 6 qualities are "prerequisites" to the study of the Advaita, it is not the case that one need necessarily be limited to the study of PM if one is not yet fully embodying these 6 virtues. In the aforementioned book, the author indicates that the qualities listed as prerequisites to the study of Advaita are also listed as the characteristics of a liberated one. Even while studying and practicing Advaita, one can continue to cultivate these qualities within the fold of Advaita (i.e., not have to return to studying PM). The purpose of the rites in PM (if done without desire and a sense of doership) is to burn up karma and purify the mind. Adi Shankaracharya states that meditation (and other mental "actions") do the same thing as Vedic rites for the person on the path of knowledge (i.e., purify the mind in preparation for liberation). However, one need not "return" to the study of PM. Early in the BSB, the Acharya directly discounts the not
 ion that
 the study of PM is a requisite to study of Advaita.

One should be cautious in making a clear dichotomous separation of PM and Advaita in practice. In PM, the goal of the rites is desire-prompted and performed with a sense of doership. In Advaita, the same rites may be enjoined up until liberation (for those who have not undertaken formal physical renunciation) provided they are done without a sense of doership or desire. Furthermore, one may embark on the study of Advaita without first studying PM.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti



The journey of a thousand miles begins
with a single step.--Chinese Proverb


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