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

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 4 09:51:48 CST 2004

--- Sanjay Verma <sanjay1297 at yahoo.com> wrote:


> 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

I had posted sometime ago the relevant dialog from "The Saint of
Sringeri" where HH Chandrashekhara Bharati of Sringeri discusses
saMnyAsa as a pre-requisite for VedAntic study. The final conclusion on
this topic is: "Ideally, only saMnyAsins should study vedAnta as per
the shAstras. In the case of householders, VedAntic study is not
prohibited, but their study will not lead to Self-realilzation." The
dialog is at:


> of the qualities which the sadhaka in Advaita must cultivate (one
> need go no further than King Janaka). 

In the gItA bhAshhya, Shankara says that it can be assumed that Janaka
attained "saMsiddhi" -- meaning that he came upto the dawn of
Self-realization, but not final Liberation itself. Besides, in the
jIvanmuktiviveka (JMV) of svAmi vidyAraNya, Janaka is said to have
attained the status of a brahmaGYAnI, but not a sthitapraGYa (one who
has attained firmness in BrahmaGYAna), and still needed to eliminate
his vAsanas. The reason: Janaka lacked firmness in the Four
Qualifications, and hence his BrahmaGYAna was also not firm. Such
people who attain infirm BrahmaGYAna while still in the householder
stage, are advised to take up vidvat saMnyAsa so that their GYAna may
become firm.

> 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.

This practise of vedAnta by a householder has been considered in the
JMV. Shankara speaks of the "Royal Way" of sAdhana-chatushhTaya, then
sannyAsa and then study of VedAnta, and finally Realization. Some
people do not travel this way, in fact, JMV speaks of householders who
out of curiousity take up practising vedAnta and yet attain
BrahmaGYAna. BUT the JMV points out that these people will NOT have
firmness in their GYAna, and will need to take up vidvat sannyAsa to
attain mukti. I don't have the time to post all the extracts here, but
some portions may be found at

> 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.

I've not read Marcaurelle's book, but it seems to be contradicting the
exposition of the shAstras by HH Chandrashekhara Bharati of Sringeri.

> 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.

The AchArya does say that one can embark on the study of VedAnta ONLY
after the said Four Qualifications (which begin with viveka, vairAgya
etc.), irrespective of whether he has grounding in PM or not. But I
clearly specified that if one DOES NOT possess the said pre-requisites,
one has no other option but to practise dharma till the attainment of
the pre-requisite Qualifications. 

> One should be cautious in making a clear dichotomous separation of PM
> and Advaita in practice.

One needs to understand the difference between pravR^itti and nivR^itti


> 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.

I agree with the above.

> Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
> Sanjay 

Two legitimate questions that can be asked are:

1) Is there an example of one who has attained the Four Qualifications
in perfection and still has not taken up saMnyAsa? 

2) Is there one who has attained Liberation without taking saMnyAsa? 

I can think of one example for both questions: shrI rAma is said to
have attained jIvanmukti with perfect Qualifications. If he continued
to rule the earth after that as a king, then I'm not sure the claim is
correct that sannyAsa is a pre-requisite for Liberation.


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