[Advaita-l] Fw: moxa-sAdhanA

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jun 16 21:52:02 CDT 2008

The reason I am continuing to discuss this topic is it raises important 
questions on the nature of Vedantic ethics.  Although it seems Anantji and 
I are slowly coming to agreement on most issues.  I feel he is still 
misunderstanding some key concepts.

On Sun, 15 Jun 2008, Ananta Bhagwat wrote:

> 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.

You still have't explained what makes the ethics of the gIta and Yoga 
(patanjala yoga?  Something else?) any more universal than any other 
shastra.  Be that as it may, you seem to admit now than conscience takes a 
backseat.  It is a way to reason about pramanas not a pramana for dharma 
in itself.

> 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).

For advaita vedanta, veda is by definition permanent and good.

> Later advaita tradition has yogAbhyAsa as 
> a part of moxa-sAdhanA (see my first post of this thread).

As does earlier advaita tradition.

> That means 
> advaita tradition inculcates ethical principles, and conscience 
> (sadasatviveka) is a part of it.

Even without yoga, Advaita Vedanta inculculates ethical principles.  As 
was recently discussed here, Advaita Vedanta rejects one of the main 
supports of Patanjala Yogic ethics--the idea that a Yogi has some kind of 
"mystic insight" that ordinary people lack.  sadasataviveka is reasoning 
based on facts provided by the shastras there is no need to invoke 
conscience as a seperate category there.

> <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.

Since when does "it is very difficult" become an excuse for not doing 
anything?  Besides it can't be that difficult as throughout history people 
have been doing exactly that.  If it is difficult to perform, say, the 
somayajnas today, it is because of interference from idiot reformers and 
politicians not any intrinsic difficulty in the act itself.

>  Sankara does not 
> ordain karma-kANDa injunctions to be mandatory for moxa or knowledge of 
> brahman (BSB 1.1).

As we discussed at the very beginning of the the thread, dharma and moksha 
are two entirely seperate things.  What Vedanta has to say about shastras 
from the point of view of moksha has no bearing on what it has to say 
about them from the point of view of dharma.

> 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 is sankhya, yoga etc. are "outside".  Vedas are "inside" 
the tradition.  Advaita Vedanta only accepts from other darshanas to the 
extent that they conform to the doctrine of the Vedas.  See Brahmasutra 
2.1.1-3 and the bhashya thereon.

> <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.

One needn't invoke purva mimamsa in this regard.  in my last message I 
quoted Brahmasutra 3.1.25 which explicity defends the sattva of those 
sacrifices.  You have a copy of the brahmasutrabhashya look for yourself. 
If Maharshi Badarayana is not a Vedantin, then who is?!

Also plese note that what I am defending is not animal sacrifices per se, 
but the supremacy of shastra as pramana for dharma.

Now I must restate that Advaita Vedanta does in fact consider the pashu 
yajnas to be inferior.  But my point is that it is not for any of the 
reasons you give.  It is only because Advaita Vedanta considers _all_ 
karma to be inferior even offering a flower or ghee or a mantra. Karma is 
the result of ahamkara and its rewards are finite.  On the otherhand when 
action is performed without ahamkara then it is moral even if results in 
the slaughter of thousands.  The idea that "it makes (some) modern people 
squeamish" is in any way shape or form a criterion for moral fitness in 
Advaita Vedanta is bogus.

> 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.

If one is going to claim to be following Vedantic ethics then these are 
not morally neutral actions at all.  Karma is karma is karma.  Where it is 
done with ahamkara, it binds one to samsara whether it is mentioned in 
the shastras or not.  All of it has to be given up if moksha is ones goal. 
If it is not Gita 16 23-24 shows the way.  This is why I got involved in 
learning shastras myself--I won't lie I like the good food, and shiny 
toys too.  As a result I have gone into debt to the rshis, devas, and 
pitrs.  To ignore them and keep posting here about how spiritual I am 
would be the height of hypocrisy.

> 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.

The thing to note here is the public in question is the Vedic public and 
the and the society to be strengthened by yajna is Vedic society. 
Especially if you look at the gita in the context of the Mahabharata it is 
readily apparent that it is fully immersed in the ethos of both the karma 
and jnana kandas of the Vedas.

Also the use of the word exclusive in the above description is 
unwarranted.  A thing can easily be for both the private and public good.

> Those who do not follow this wheel by making sacrifices 
> are decried by gItA (3.16). gItA is not against Vedic sacrifices

Thanks.  That is what I have been saying all along.  But now I am even 
more perplexed as to what this "spirit of the gita" which you have been 
contrasting in opposition to the "spirit of the shastras" is all about.

> (notably it never talks about animal sacrifices)

why should it?  A distinction between animal sacrifices and other kinds is 
not something that would occur to someone steeped in Vedic culture.  The 
dividing line is between with ahamakara and without.

> if they are done as a 
> part of sacred duty without personal attachment.

Right.  That is the criteria.  Whether they cause himsa or not is 

> 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.

I suspect I have a different view as to the worth of various "Indian 
scholars" than you :-) so I won't go into that but just say that if you 
look at the sources, the idea of desireless performance of actions is not 
foreign to purva mimamsa either.  In fact there is a large grey area 
between extreme karma-only and extreme jnana-only which goes to show how 
closely related the purva and uttara mimamsa really are.

> 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.

I hope by now I have convinced you that the divide is less sharp than you 
previously thought.

> <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.

First let the "moderns" show that they are any more rational than the 
traditionalists. I personally have a hard time believing it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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