[Advaita-l] Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 4

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 28 08:13:24 CDT 2009

They, in whom this consciousness of Self (vrttih) being ever present grows into maturity (paripakka), ONLY THEY attain to the state of Brahman (praptah sadbrahmataam); OTHERS merely deal with words!(shabdavadinah) Such persons are only clever in discussing about Brahman (kushala Brahmavaartaayam) but have no realization (vrtti-heenah), suraaginah being attached (to the world) they too as a consequence of their ignorance are born and die again and again.

This is where renunciation assumes centerstage. As long as one is a active member of society, there are certain inescapable domains that are still operative in one’s functional status. One has duties, and responsibilities. The most basic necessities to support life – food clothing and a home - need to be taken care of. For this what is needed is wealth. If one is young this means having a occupation that generates wealth. If one is older and retired, one may not need to work but one is then concerned about making sure that the wealth already earned is maintained with interest or that one’s pensions, or 401Ks, are accruing appropriately. In addition one has to relate to one’s relations – and fulfil various duties – spouse, child, parent, and in-law and even grand-parent,etc – every member of society will have at least one if not all of these roles that require to be played and played actively in every spirit of those roles. 

Trying to cultivate an aura of detachment or disinterest as even one is fully enmeshed in this societal role-playing can be disastrous and is certainly not advisable/if it were even possible, and can only lead to conflict situations. If you are an employee you cannot let atmavichara allow your productivity to be hampered nor as a spouse can you excuse yourself from the innumerable obligations that go along with that role. At every stage of life, there are countless sources of worries and tensions – personal progress at work, illnesses in one’s immediate and even extended family, death of near and dear ones, taxes, education and marriage of one’s children – the list goes on and on. How can such a life be made compatible with the ideals of constant and unrelenting atmavichara? It is simply impossible for it to be so. Any attempt at it can only be at the cost of seriously failing in one’s roles as a active member of society and can assume
 significant ethical and moral repercussions and dilemmas.

So the solution according to Shankara is the ageless prescription found in the Shruti itself - etaM vai tam AtmAnaM viditvA brAhmaNAH putraishhaNAyAshcha vittaishhaNAyAshcha lokaishhaNAyAshcha vyutthAyAtha bhikshAcharyaM charantIti.

"Having realized this very Self, BrAhmaNas give up desires for offspring, wealth and heaven, and take to mendicancy."

Here it is important to note that Brahmanas here refers to people with Self-knowledge – according to Shankara who states this in categorical terms. It is not referring to people with pandityam or Vedic scholarship, but specifically to “knowers of Self”

As a matter of fact Shankara in the BUB (2.4) holds that renunciation is prescribed AS PART OF the instruction about Brahman asya brahmavidyayaa angatvene sannyaso vidhisitah. He also is clear-cut that this renunciation which is characterized by abandonment of all actions IS SUBSIDIARY TO the knowing of Brahman - Parivrajyam sarvasadhana-sannyasa-lakshanam angatvena vidhitsyate.

In the same vein as well, in his Br Up vartika, Sureshwaracharya expresses this quite explicitly.

An ascetic (yatih) who has not given up desire may not attain liberation EVEN IF HE IS A KNOWER OF BRAHMAN (brahmaveditve) Therefore the COMBINATION of knowledge of Brahman WITH RENUNCIATION (sannyasena samucchayah) is mentioned here as a means to liberation (mukti).

…I do not think we can find a more clear-cut assertion than this! 

and further Sureshwaracharya clarifies...and uses a beautiful expression here for nidhidhyasanam...

Therefore having COMPLETELY abandoned actions which proceed only from infatuation the one of clear intellect overcomes ignorance by knowing of Oneness; he of himself meditates on his own Self as the Atman which itself is knowledge (jnanamevaatmanaatmanamupaseeno) and becomes immortal (amrto bhavet)

And he quotes a Shruti here – Bhallavi Shruti – sarvah sannyasatkarmeva jnanaatkaivalyamashnute – ONLY HE who has taken to sannyasa attains liberation through knowledge.

The institution of sannyasa, as a ashrama, thus becomes both sacrosanct and indispensable for a Self-Knower. This is because one is ethically, and within the realm of dharma, dissociating oneself from society. The innumerable spheres of responsibilities and the entire gamut of societal obligations are formally and permanently severed in toto. And this is where a ritualistic or formalized procedure is generally prescribed and described to reinforce what is ultimately a inner or mental renunciation. And one cannot be underscored enough what a blessing it is to have such a formalized process in Sanatana dharma since beginning less time. 

It is interesting in this context to see what Elgin Skorpen’s views are: “So from either perspective, strict Kantian or compatible life-ideals, the result is the same. What the modern candidate for religious renunciation in the West is considering is, in fact, a "teleological suspension of the ethical," and that is something that ex hypothei he will not and cannot do lightly, and he may well experience fear and trembling if he does” and contrasts it with “the Hindu thoroughly internalizes morality as a representative of a class, so that moral conflicts are resolved not by modern reason but by appeal to authority -- in this case the authority of scripture” And he draws the following conclusions - 1.Western religious renunciation cannot be justified from the moral point of view; 2.the Hindu pattern, in contrast, is acceptable from the moral point of view given the premise that renunciation is a necessary means to self-realization, and 3. though
 Hindu religion and anthropology are "ill-suited to Western social practice," nevertheless, the Hindu pattern of renunciation "proposes a course of human growth leading up to renunciation that might better serve the renunciate ... than does the Western pattern."

One consumes one’s body mentally to the funeral pyre, and with this comes the strong conviction that all societal ties are severed in toto with no exceptions. This alone liberates the individual to now focus all his efforts and time exclusively towards atma vichara in an all-encompassing manner. Then alone can there be a gradual dissolution of the perfunctory mental modes of indisciplinary content, and a resulting enhancement of singleminded and one-pointed devotion to the Self. This is what Shankara means when says “For the other has not got his conviction about differences removed. ..because of his seeing hearing thinking and knowing differences he believes "I shall get this by doing this". In the case of such a man who is engaged thus there CANNOT be any establishment in Brahman for he is possessed of the ideas arising from his attachment to false transformations”

Elsewhere Shankara again says this: Indeed, it is not possible that one who wants to go to the eastern sea and the other who wants to go in the opposite direction to the western sea can have the same course! And that (jnana-nishtA) is opposed to coexistence with duties, like going to the western sea. It has been the conclusion of those versed in the valid means of knowledge that the difference between them is as wide as that between a mountain and a mustard seed! Therefore it is established that one should have recourse to steadfastness in Knowledge ONLY BY relinquishing ALL rites and duties.

It is the effacement of these ideas of non-self alone that constitute vasanakshaya. And in this sense alone is vidwat SANNYASA the PROXIMATE cause of jivanMUKTI – in the words of Swami Vidyaranya – vidvat sannyasasya jivanmukti hetutvat.
Even a trace of vasanas has the effect of quickly dragging the seeker downhill – akin to a ball - prachyutakelikandukah – a sport ball that has fallen from the hand – and which very rapidly falls down the stairs, to use a poignant analogy from the VC. 

(to be continued)

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah


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