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

Ramesh Nagarajan rameshnj18us at gmail.com
Tue Aug 10 10:08:27 CDT 2010

Venkatesh said,

> > Some questions.
> > How can Citta Suddhi be there when there are sins? Is Citta Suddhi
> different from removing bad karma? >What is Citta Suddhi? What is bad >
> karma? What is sin?  Fast answer is this is all Maya but I like different
> > answer.

Dear Venkatesh,

What is sin?  Sin can be defined as the harm that one causes to others and
oneself via thoughts, speech and action.  However, this cannot be a complete
definition.  Generally speaking, from the material world perspective, sin is
defined to protect the society.  Depending on the severity of the harm
caused to others the sin can be classified in varied degrees.  On the same
token, shastras declare that the same action can be defined as sin or
sinless act depending on who is performing it (king killing people during
war.)  There is a possibility of confusion for a common man whether a person
has committed a sin, whether he has done it knowingly or unknowingly, what
should be the prayachitta, etc.,   Of course, he can get his questions
answered from the qualified Gurus and scriptures.  But these sources aren’t
within reach at all times for a common man as he can’t question himself for
each and every step he takes.

So, we have to dig deeper to find the primordial sin.  The primordial sin is
the acceptance of division of Brahman.  The ego sense claims the duality,
which causes longing and / or suffering.  This puts us into the cycle of
births and deaths.  If our Sadhana is directed towards in eradicating the
primordial sin, then all other sins drop away automatically.  These are the
some of the examples who attained Jaanni state, in spite of alleged sinful
activities: Arunagirinadhar, Girish Chandra Gosh  (disciple of Ramakrishna
Of course, a SadGurus  such as Bhagavan Ramanar’s help is required to find a
way to address and eradicate this sin.

Quoting Ramanar’s words:  “The sin is said to be in man; but there is no
manhood in sleep; manhood comes on waking, along with the thought ‘I am this
body’; this thought is the real original sin; it must be removed by the
death of the ego, after which this thought will not arise.”

In fact we can define sin in a more optimistic view: Missing the target.
What is the target?  The target is to realize that there is only one reality
(Brahmam / Self alone exists), and abide in the Self at all times.  That is
why liberated person (only Self remains) cuts the future births as the sin
(multiplicity) is wiped out.

Obviously, it takes effort to reach that higher state and tough to know how
to practice in the beginning.  So we have to find ways to eradicate sin at
the operational level.    That is where Nitya Karma will be helpful.  Idle
mind is dangerous, as it can dwell into Tamas state, which is the source of
all types of bad habits.  Similarly, if a person exhibits self-pity, guilty
and other related bad emotions, he would eventually land in a depressed
mood, which would again lead to bad effects to himself and others.  So
shastras defined Nitya Karma (set of rituals) to be performed on a daily
basis.  It was said that, in those days, Brahmin had so many rituals that
pretty much his whole day was spent on rituals.  Kings take care of
Brahmins, so that they don’t need to depend on outside work.  Thus, the
question doesn’t arise in his mind about what to do next and there by
avoiding any further vasanas.  In that sense adding vasanas is considered as
sin as it deviates from the target (abiding in single reality.)  By
following this Nitya Karma practice, eventually his mind gets purified.
This is simply because unconsciously or consciously he is not deviating from
the target.  The purified mind (Citta Sudhi) is eligible to work with the
primordial sin.


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