[Advaita-l] Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 5

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 29 06:48:37 CDT 2009


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. 

The Shurti beginning with shanto dantah prescribes concentrated contemplation for the sannyasin who has performed Vedanta shravana is order to be established in the sarvatmabhava (sarvatmasiddhaye) or kaivalya. Yatih – the sannyasin – to him alone can arise the state of being established in Brahman asat anusandhim vihaya giving up thinking about asat remaining steadfast in the contemplation of aham brahmasmi brahmani nishta svanubhutya by the realization of one’s real nature as self-effulgent and everblissful 
In the same vein, Shankara makes his position clear in the BSB as well :
“And then it has to be considered as to whether that steadfastness is meant for anyone
belonging to any one of the four stages of life or to the MONK ALONE?.....the conclusion will be that the MONK ALONE can be STEADFAST in BRAHMAN..
How can the term steadfast in Brahman, used in its derivative sense, and possible application to people in ALL the stages of life be confined to the monk alone?

{Here the opponent takes the position that how can you restrict what is a generic term of being established in Brahman to one particular class of humans i.e. the renunciates – why cannot people in all walks of life, including those that are active as members of society, attain to steadfastness in Brahman?} 

Vedantin's Reply : The term steadfastness in Brahman implies a conusmmation in Brahman a total absorption in Brahman which is the same as the absence of ANY OTHER PREOCCUPATION except THAT - and that is NOT POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE IN THE OTHER THREE STAGES.”

So we see that the exclusivity of jnana-nishta for ONLY sannyasis has nothing to do with the external characteristics which are only trivial incidentalities but to the extremely crucial aspect of a consummation that requires a unwavering and absolute commitment that is simply impossible unless one has severed links with society – especially in a formal(ized) manner. 

This severance – this ritualized self-immolation imagery is as profoundly stark as it is irreversible. It is not a matter to be trifled with neither dismissed as being trivial. Once a man commits to sannyasa he is as good as dead to the world. If 2 days after this his child gets diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition he cannot be at her bedside nor, if some other calamity befalls his family of birth, can he change his mind a month later. He is bereft of any possessions, completely vulnerable and exposed to the elements – be they pesty mosquitoes or more deadly snakes and scorpions, inclemental weather, bodily illness or the lack of food. In his autobiography Swami Tapovan describes many of these incidents in vivid terms – same has been written of Bhagwan Ramana as well. His only strength is that of his conviction of his Oneness with the Supreme – that conviction alone is his only strength as Shankara says in his Brh Up bhashya. 

Expressed in a stark manner – sannyasa is nothing short of a ritualized suicide from the kind of lifestyle we consider “normal” – and what is the supremely ironic? The fact that this life of joys and sorrows which we all hold on to so tencaciously is what Shanara in the Up Sahasri says is atmahatya the real Suicide. Let us pause for a moment to reflect on that – this thing we call “LIFE” with all its variety, and vivacity, for which we endeavor so assiduously to cling to, with much fanfare and passion and zest – is in Shankar’s words a suicide….the suicide we know is a “suicidal dying”; the suicide that Shankara laments about is our collective “suicidal living”! 

In the Mandukya 2.35 we find this very vividly presented - 
This Self ayam that is beyond all imagination nirvikalpah and free from upasama the diversity of this phenomenal world prapancha and nondual advayah has been seen drshtah by the contemplative people munibhih the enlightened souls versed in the Vedas vedaparagaih and unafflicted by desire fear and anger.
Shankara clarifies that the idea is that the Supreme Self is realizable ONLY BY THE MEN OF RENUNCIATION who are free from blemishes, who are learned, and who are devoted to the Upanishads...and not to those whose hearts are tainted by attachment. 

Further in the next verse it is said that the Knower “should behave as if dull-witted” ...  What does this mean – behave in the world as if dull-witted is clarified in clearcut terms next verse

Mandukya 2.37
The mendicant should have no appreciation for greetings and he should be free from rituals He should have the body and soul as his support and he should be dependent on circumstances.

Shankara clarifies further - "that is to say having given up all desire for external objects and having embraced the highest kind of FORMAL RENUNCIATION, in accordance with the Vedic text "Knowing this very self the Brahmanas renounce and lead a mendicants life (Br 3.5.1)
and the Smrti With their Self identified in that..Gita 5.17) – An interesting term is used here in the karika chalachalaniketa - Shankara says chala is the changing body and the achala is the unchanging Self - whenver perchance impelled by hunger, etc such a one thinks of oneself as "I" by forgetting the reality of the Self, which is one's niketa support and which is by nature unchanging like the sky then the cala the body becomes his niketa i.e. place of abode. The man of illumination who thus has the changing and the unchanging as his support but not the man who as external obkects as his support. Also yadrrchikah bhavet he should merely depend on strips of cloth coverings and food that come to him by chance for the maintenance of the body

Only then the next karika clarifies does one not only become identified tattvibhutah with the Real, and have one's delight tadaramah in the Real and such a one does not waver aprachyutah from
the Real.

The type of austerity or tapas that a sannyasi undergoes can never be even remotely matched by a grhastha or a householder. In the Mundaka bhashya Shankara says that “the Self is known by tapas, by making the mind and senses one-pointed. it is known from the smRti-s that "the greatest tapas is making the mind and the senses one-pointed" - that form of tapas characterized by single-pointedness is alone, by its very nature, conducive to atma darshana.. in fact such tapas IS verily Brahman.

It is only when knowledge is accompanied by both tyaga renunciation and tapas austerity, that it can lead to the dissolution of the mala the dirt that clouds the antahkaranam and prevents the liberating knowledge from conferring the highest fruit of jivanmukti and Supreme Peace. “The Atman is attained through truth, austerity, correct knowledge and Brahmacharya (self-control), observed CONTINUOSLY WITHOUT A BREAK.”(Mundaka Up)

Suppose one takes the stance that jnana and karmayoga also can lead to the same? Shankara completely refutes this position. "..."Since the avidya of the SELFKNOWER has been abolished he CANNOT undertake karmayoga that is rooted in error....therefore it is rational to maintain that Karmayoga is out of question for the self-knower...the self-knower having discharged all; duties has no further purpose to fulfil..renunciation and karmayoga equally promote liberation refers to the non-self-knower....which is distinct from the TOTAL RENUNCIATION of a self-knower."..

“Since it is IMPOSSIBLE that renunciation of actions and Karma-yoga can be undertaken by a knower of the Self, therefore, to say that both of them lead to Liberation, is absurd..... But in the case of the knower of the Self, since it is impossible to pursue both renunciation of actions and Karma-yoga, therefore, to say that they lead to Liberation and that Karma-yoga is superior to renunciation of actions is illogical. 

(to be continued)

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah


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