[Advaita-l] Jivanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa pt 6

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 30 09:14:59 CDT 2009

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, and to call his Karma-yoga as superior to renunciation of action-both these positions are 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..." 

Here we can see in categorical terms Shankara dismissing the very idea of nishkamya karma or karmayoga for a Self-knower who is "akarta asanga nityamukta"

With regard to this the Opponent asks a very pertinent question : "Is it that renunciation of actions and Karma-yoga are both impossible for a knower of the Self, or that one of the two is impossible?  If one of the two be impossible, then is it renunciation of actions or Karma-yoga?  And the reason for this impossibility should also be stated." 

Shankara summarizes all the various portions of the Gita in his answer here-

As to this, the answer is:  In the case of the knower of the Self, since there has occured a cessation of false knowledge, Karma-yoga, which is based on erroneous knowledge, will become impossible. What is being established in various places here in the scripture (Gita), in the various portions dealing with the ascertainment of the real nature of the Self, IS THIS:  Having stated that for the knower of the Self, who has realized as his own the Self which is actionless owing to Its being free from all such transfromations as birth etc. and from whom false ignorance has been eradicated as a result of full enlightenment, there follows renunciation of all acitons characterized by abiding in the state of identity with the actionless Self, it is then stated that because of the contradiction between correct knowledge and false ignorance, and their results, Karma-yoga-which is opposed to renunciation of actions, which has false ignorance as its basis, which is 
 preceded by the idea of agentship, and which is preceded by the idea of agentship, and which consists in being established in the active-self-is nonexistent for him.   This being so, it will be logical to say that Karma-yoga, which has erroneous knowledge for its source, is impossible for the knower of the Self who has become freed from false knowledge.”

In other words – karmayoga involves dedicating “my” actions to the Lord and also relinquishing "my" attachment to the results of “my” actions – ishwara arpana buddhi and prasada buddhi. To a knower who has the knowledge “I am forever unattached, I am akarta satchitananda svarupa Atma” karmayoga is incompatible with this thought process. How can such a self-knower do karmayoga?? The very idea is so absurd, that Shankara rightfully dismisses it in toto. Until the dawn of self-knowledge karmayoga is an indispensible tool to attain chittashuddhi - to enable one to gain self-knowledge – but after doubtless self-knowledge has been acquired and assimilated by repeated shravanam and mananam – a thought of being a “karmayogi” betrays a lack of assimilation of knowledge, and is certainly unhelpful and actually contrary to absorption in this knowledge. 

Even in the case of someone, who with exceptional discipline, restricts himself to performing ONLY nitya karmas and does not indulge in ANY kaamya karmas (a purely theoretical possibility only) – even then those karmas will beget results. And so samsara will continue – Shankara makes this very clear in the 18th chapter of the Gita – 

Objection:  Well, is it not that they say the daily obligatory (nitya) and the occasional (naimittika) rites and duties have no results at all? Reply:  This defect does not desire.  It is the intention of the Lord that the nitya-karmas (daily obligatory duties) also have results; …it is only in  the case of sannyasins (monks) alone that there is no connection with the results of actions.

Elsewhere too in the Upadesha Sahasri Shankara repeats the same idea : Up Sah 
Four things only are the results of actions – production, acquisition, transformation, and purification. All actions with their accessories SHOULD therefore BE GIVEN UP – and this includes ones nitya and naimittika karmas as well.

The two contradictiory ideas I am Brahman and I am an agent cannot coexist – nahi brahmasmi karteti viruddhe bhavato dhiryo. In his short treatise the vakya vrtti as well – Shankara repeats - The renunciation of ALL actions in order to discriminate the meaning of the word thou becomes the means to Self-knowledge according to the teaching controlling the internal and external senses (Br Up 4.4.23)

This is why at numerous instances in the Gitabhashya whenever Krishna talks about a parabhakta or a jnani or a gunateeta or a sthitaprajna or a Supreme yogi, Shankara quietly but explicitly introduces the term “sannyasi” to make it clear that such a person has to be one who has renounced ALL actions – not simply a mental renunciation of the doership notion, which can never ever be absolute, but a total physical renunciation in toto. 

Ch 2 
…that man who has become thus, the sannyasin, the man of steady wisdom, the knower of Brahman; adhi-gacchati, attains; santim, peace, called Nirvana, i.e. he becomes one with Brahman; yah, who; vihaya, after rejecting; sarvan, all; kaman, desires, WITHOUT A TRACE, fully; carati, moves about, i.e. wanders about, making efforts only for maintaining the body; nihsprhah, free from hankering, becoming free from any longing EVEN FOR the maintenance of the body;

Ch 3
Two kinds of Convictions, viz the Conviction concerning Reality, and the Conviction concerning Yoga, associated with detachment from and engagement in action (respectively), which are dealt with in this Scripure (Gita), have been indicated by the Lord.  As to that, beginning with 'When one fully renounces all the desires' (2.55) and ending with the close of the Chapter, the Lord, having stated that sannyasa, monasticism, HAS TO BE resorted to by those who are devoted to the Conviction about the Reality (Sankhya-buddhi), has also added in the verse, 'this is the state  of being established in Brahman' (2.72), that  their fulfilment comes from devotion to that alone.

…with regard to the seekers of Liberation, renunciation of ALL actions has been prescribed as an ACCESSORY of Knowledge by all the Upanisads, Itihasas, Puranas and Yoga-scripures. 

3.3 O unblemished one, two kinds of steadfastness in this world were spoken of by Me in the days of yore-through the Yoga of Knowledge for the men of realization; through the Yoga of Action for the yogis.
Now then, which is that steadfastness of two kinds?  In answer the Lord says:  The steadfastness jnanayogena, through the Yoga of Knowledge-Knowledge itself being the Yoga; had been stated sankhyanam, for the men of realization-those possessed of  the  Knowledge arising from the  discrimination with regard to the Self and the not-Self, those who have espoused monasticism from the stage of Celibacy;  itself, those to whom the entity presented by the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained (see Mu. 3.2.6)-,the monks who are known as the parama-hamsas, those who are established in Brahman alone.  

Ch 6
6.10 From the uise of the qualifying words, 'in a solitary place' and 'alone', it follows that (he HAS TO undertake all these) after espousing monasticism.  And even after renunciation, he should concentrate his mind by desisting from all acquisition.  This is the meaning.

Ch 8
8.15 Upetya mam, as a result of reaching Me who am God-as a result of realizing My nature; mahatmanah, the exalted ones, THE MONKS; gatah, who have attained; the paramam, highest; samsiddhim, perfection, called Liberation; na, do not; apnuvanti, get; this kind of punarjanama, rebirth.

Ch 12
The group of qualities of the MONKS who meditate on the Immutable, who have renounced all desires, who are steadfast in the knowledge of the supreme Goal-which  (qualities) are under discussion beginning from 'He who is not hateful towards any creature' (13)…

Ch 15
The disciplines leading to the state of transcendence of the qualities, which have been stated (in the verses) beginning from 'he who, sitting like one indifferent,' and ending with 'he is said to have gone beyond the qualities,' HAVE TO BE practised by a MONK, a seeker of Liberation, so long as they are to be achieved through effort.  But when they become FIRMLY INGRAINED, they become the indications, perceivable to himself, of a monk who has transcended the qualities.

BG:Ch 18 
But the enlightened ones who have realized the supreme Truth are competent only for steadfastness in Knowledge, which is characterized by renunciation of all actions

In his sadhana panchakam – a very short treatise containing the very essence of sadhana for jivanmukti, Shankara stresses initially adherence to svadharma and karmayoga (vedo nityamadeeyatam etc)  for chittashuddhi and subsequently vividisha sannyasa (nijagruhathurna vinirgamyatham) in a very explicit and clearcut sequence - 

Daily (pratidinam) take the medicine of food gotten as alms (bhikshaushadham bhujyataam). In solitude (ekante) live joyously (sukhamaasyataam) and quieten your mind in the Supreme Lord (paratare cheetah samadhiyatam) and only thereby brahmasmi iti vibhavyatam Be ever established in the conviction  I am Brahman.

To summarize the ideal path for jnanamarga according to Shankara is 

Performance of nitya karmas --> Karmayoga --> Chittashuddhi --> Strong Viveka/Vairagya/Mumukshutvam --> Vividhisha Sannyasa --> Shravana,Manana and Nidhidhyasana (available only from a shrotriya brahmanishta and with great difficulty) --> Aparoksha JNana --> (in some cases vidwat sannyasa) --> JivanMukti 

This is explicityl described as much by Sureshwaracharya - nityanaimittika karmanushtana --> chittashuddhi --> samsara yathatmyavabodha (knowledge of true nature of samsara) --> vairagya --> mumuksha --> tad upaya paryeshana (longing for the means to the end of samsara) --> vividisha sannyasa (renunciation of all desires – putra/vitta/loka) --> shravana manana nidhidhyasana --> tat tvam asi adi vaakyartha parijnana --> avidyoccheda/brahmajnanaavagati --> Moksha

As this is clearly not the path that is followed in today’s day and age (with rare exceptions) we have a significant detour in this path

Weak or Feeble Viveka/Vairagya/Mumukshutvam/ +/- intellectual curiosity    --> Vedanta shravana,manana, nidhidhyasana (freely available) --> Aparoskha Jnana --> internal sannyasa with continued nidhidhyasana with vasanakshaya+manonasha --> continuing into vidwat sannyasa --> jivanMukti

May the Grace of the Acharya and our Guru bless us all with advaita jnana, jnana-nishtA and jivanmukti.

(Dedicated at the Lotus feet of my Guru Pujya Swami Paramarthananda)

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah


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