[Advaita-l] Adi Sankara's comment about Prayascitta Karma and Sureshvaracharya's comment about Nitya Karma

Ramesh Nagarajan rameshnj18us at gmail.com
Thu Aug 5 13:13:20 CDT 2010

In my humble opinion, both Prayascitta and Nitya Karma helps in chitta
suddhi.  I am not sure if it removes the bad karma.  As per Ramana
Maharishi, the body has to go through whatever it has to in this life,
nothing could be done about it.  Being a Perfect Yogi, his body had cancer
during the final stages of his life.

We can take an example of King Parikshit in Bhagavatham.  For Parikshit,
great sages such as Suka were present before him, after he was cursed by
Sringin.  The sages didn't ask him to do Prayascitta and other Karmas so
that at least they could extend the seven days period to months or years.
They taught him what he needs to know and do, to reach a stage where he
would be free from all sufferings.

Even if we assume that Prayascitta karma removes the bad karma, how one can
validate it?  On the other hand, we can definitely say, these karma bring
chitta suddhi by personally experiencing it.

Logically speaking, the person who has committed sins were asked to perform
Prayascitta and Nitya Karma for the following reasons.  By performing
rituals, offering prayers and other related activities his mind gets
cleansed as he move towards and performs satvic activities.  First of all,
he understands that he cannot repeat this behavior, secondly his bad
behavior is replaced with good ones.

Shastras advices to perform Nitya Karma, so that the mind doesn't fall into
either tamas or rajas activities.  If a person knows exactly what he needs
to do (Swadharma) he wouldn't have enough time to perform unnecessary
activities and fell into the trap of maya and carry out sinful activities.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, performing Prayascittam or not is
purely depends on the state of the mind of that individual.   We can
categorize the state of mind into two broad types: 1.  People who are
attached to the material world and /or have commenced the journey towards
spiritual goal but still exhibit moderate to strong attachment to body and
mind.  2.  People whose goal is only to experience the Truth and give
required importance to maintain the body to pursue Sadhana.

Both these categories of people may perform same types of actions: rituals,
offering, prayers, japa, service etc.,  But their intentions are different.
The former one says I am doing to Prayascitta and Nitya Karma to protect the
body, while the later says I am performing Sadhana to experience the Truth.
Since there is a difference in intention, the former may give up the
prescribed duties once the pleasant situation arises, while the later
continues to perform Sadhana irrespective of the situation and until the
final goal is reached.


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