[Advaita-l] Fw: moxa-sAdhanA

Ananta Bhagwat ananta14 at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 15 09:24:10 CDT 2008

----- Original Message ----
From: Jaldhar H. Vyas  <jaldhar at braincells.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta  <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:53:56 AM
Subject:  Re: [Advaita-l] Fw: moxa-sAdhanA

<If this conscience is not a logical  system then it is arbitrary and 
useless.  If it is based on some logical  system (e.g. modern ethics) then 
it suffers the same defect as that which it  purports to criticise. once again it is just A's word against   B.>

Even if conscience is not a product of logical system it does not act in an  arbitrary manner. It is individual's ethical base, and can connect itself   with universal ethics of gItA and Yoga. It is a safeguard against anarchy and oppression. We can see it as sAdhana catushTaya's 'viveka' to differentiate between transitory and permanent as well as between good and bad (sadasatviveka). Later advaita tradition has yogAbhyAsa as a part of moxa-sAdhanA (see my first post of this thread). That means advaita tradition inculcates ethical principles, and conscience (sadasatviveka) is a part of it.

<Astikas take the injunctions of shastras as axioms.  One can reject that 
view entirely or accept it entirely but one cannot pick and choose pieces.>

It is practically very difficult (if not impossible) to follow SAstra word by word taking all its injunctions as axioms.  Sankara does not ordain karma-kANDa injunctions to be mandatory for moxa or knowledge of brahman (BSB 1.1). 

Vedanta tradition itself has picked and chosen from (is 'influenced by') yoga, sAnkhya etc without compromising its basic doctrine. This is possible due to absolutist position of kevala advaita which unifies everything at the  paramArtha  level but keeps the things open in vyavahAra.

<The difference for advaita-l is my perspective is based on Advaita  Vedanta 
and yours is not.>

This response surprised me. It is quite possible that in your eagerness to defend animal sacrifices you momentarily put aside the difference between pUrva  mImAMsA and advaita vedAnta of Sankara bhagavatpAda.

<Then why even bring it up?  If it bothers you that there are people 
misprepresenting Hinduism you must  correct them.  I fail to see how 
inventing a bogus "spirit of the gita" in opposition to  a bogus "spirit of 
the shastras" is going to help matters.>

I do not see any moral principles in 'animal sacrifices which are for personal and secular gains'. For example, I don't see any reason to justify my action of buying a new machine or going to an hotel and eat out against cash payments in normal situations. These are amoral (morally neutral) actions. People, depending on situation, may criticize them and I can defend them from secular platform as and when the need arises. Same is the case with animal sacrifices. These and other karma-kAnDa injunctions are not applicable for brahma-jnAna or moxa according to Sankara bhagavatpAda. In fact jnAna-kANDa (upanishad-s) have no injunctions and still their authority for jnAna is not compromised. There is this separation between karma-kANDa / pUrva-mImAMsA and jnAna-kANDa / uttara-mImAMsA. Sankara bhagavatpAda did this surgery as painlessly as possible without taking a total break  from past tradition.

Similarly gItA (2.42-44,  3.11-16 taken together) recommends sacrifices not for exclusive individual pleasures though it does not exclude them as a bond between humans and gods to help each other. Men make sacrifices which bring rains which in turn produce food-grains on which men sustain. This is a cycle for the public  good  and not exclusively for an individual. Those who do not follow this wheel by making sacrifices are decried by gItA (3.16). gItA is not against Vedic sacrifices (notably it never talks about animal sacrifices) if they are done as a part of sacred duty without personal attachment. I find the overall view of gItA to be different than that of pUrva mImAMsA which looks at sacrifices only as compliance of injunctions for personal and secular gains. 

I am open to correction here as I have never claimed to be a mImAMsA expert. But this particular view that I am talking about is supported by many Indian scholars.

There is seam between uttar-mImAMsA,  upanishad-s and gItA on one hand and pUrva-mImAMsA and karma-kANDa on the other. A perspective which does not see this seam is likely to be that of pUrva mImAMsA and not of advaita vedAnta of Sankara bhagavatpAda.

<If they ignore massive egregious violations of their supposed ethics then 
to hell with those  hypocrites.>

Agreed of course; but that need not prevent us from looking at our traditions rationally. 

<No if you read carefully it says the sacrificers themselves should subsist 
on the yaGYashiShTa and thereby be freed  from sin.  But if theu eat 
without offering then they incur sin.>

True, those who cook food (only) for themselves eat sin (3.13). Does it not capture the inclusive spirit?

<Yes and this was the departure from e.g. Purva  Mimamsa.  But it still a 
valid step.  This is the big departure from e.g. Buddhism and Jainism.>

Yes indeed, as you acknowledge correctly, it is a departure from pUrva mImAMsA. But rather than looking at it as a big departure from Buddhism and Jainism, here Vedanta moved closer to  Buddhism and Jainism at the ethical level. This fraternal embrace of Brahmanism signaled the end of Buddhism in India (I am sure, list members will pardon me for borrowing this sentence from Dr Radhakrishnan :)

Advaita's later Yoga tradition (panca yama) has some similarity with panca-SIla of Buddhism and panca-vrata of Jainism. However,  prasthAna-trayI (gItA, brahmasUtra, upanishad-s) distinguishes Advaita's ethical framework from Yoga and other Schools. Yoga's ahiMsA principle is modified to allow killings during the times of righteous war and accommodates veda's animal sacrifices though putting them at the inferior level. Needless to say it also  accommodates traditional eating habits. If we reconcile it further to few passages  from  Mahabharata (SAnti parva XII), ahiMsA of Vedanta metamorphoses into the principle of harmonious living.

Best Regards


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