[Advaita-l] Knowledge, renunciation and varNASrama rules

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 12 08:15:57 CDT 2010

Namaste Sri Vidyasankar

Request you see this example to see why it is wrong both Brahmins and
nondvijas get Brahmavidya equally

A is Brahmin does nitya karma gets Citta Suddhi takes Sanyasa and get
Brahmavidya. He has lot of rules and regulations what to eat and
drink. He has to follow all rules throughout. eat veg food and no
drinks even in Sanyasa.

B is nondvija has no rules and regulations eat everything drink
everything any time no Nitya Karma because he has no Upanayana no
Citta Suddhi. No Sanyasa. Stay at home with wife. But he can hear
Purana and Gita lectures and get Brahmavidya.

This is not correct. Kindly explain if you think it is correct.



On Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 12:09 AM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan
<svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Venkatesh,
> I have changed the subject title, but this is mainly in response to recent posts
> by you, regarding vedAnta knowledge, caste (varNa) and station in life (ASrama),
> with particular attention to brahmasUtra bhAshya 3.4.20.
>> Adi Sankara says sanyasa asrama is must for brahmasamstha. Other
>> asramas people commit sin if they do not perform duties . But these
>> duties will not allow them to be Brahmasamstha. They cannot be
>> Brahmasamstha. Only Sanyasi can be Brahmasamstha.
> That is correct. There is a very close correlation between brahmasaMsthA or
> jnAna-nishThA and saMnyAsa in Sankara bhagavatpAda's teaching. Ideally,
> only the saMnyAsin can be truly brahma-nishTha, although nowadays, most
> people are content with arm-chair philosophizing and would like to cut down
> the central importance given to saMnyAsa.
>> Who can be sanyasi?
>> Brahmins. not non dvijas definitely . How can they get Brahmavidya?
> I see a little bit of fuzzy leap of logic here. Not all dvija-s are brAhmaNa. The
> writings of Sankara bhagavatpAda and sureSvarAcArya are very clear in
> recognizing that all dvija-s, not just brAhmaNa-s, have recourse to vaidika
> saMnyAsa. Even the one reference in bRhadAraNyaka upanishad bhAshya,
> where  Sankara bhagavatpAda seems to restrict saMnyAsa to brAhmaNa-s,
> has been clarified in the vArttika by sureSvarAcArya, i.e. that the SAstra-s
> allow saMnyAsa for all dvija-s. The history of the advaita vedAnta tradition
> bears out how the SAstra has been practically applied, at least in south India
> - there is the Vaishya Guru Matha in Haldipur in Karnataka, with its lineage of
> saMnyAsI-s, and the Koviloor Mathalayam in Tamil Nadu, associated with the
> trading Chettiar community, also with its own lineage. These institutions are
> quite old and have maintained long-lasting relationships with the paramparA-s
> of the more well-known advaita vedAnta maThas that are usually associated
> with brAhmaNa communities.
>> Vidura is exception case because he had good samskaras from previous
>> births. Conclude non dvijas not eligibile for Brahmavidya.
> From the example of vidura, the fact remains that (a) even good saMskAras
> from previous births do not ensure birth in a brAhmaNa family, and (b) there
> are exceptions among those who are traditionally considered as being without
> adhikAra for veda study. If you hold on too strongly to the fact such a person
> has no adhikAra, you might become blind to recognizing his or her exceptional
> status.
> Having said this in a general fashion, I would like to go back to what Sankara
> bhagavatpAda says in his bhAshya-s on sUtra-s 1.3.38 and 3.4.20. Let us take
> sUtrabhAshya 1.3.38 first. After affirming that the adhyayana (detailed study)
> of the veda has been denied to SUdra-s, Sankara bhagavatpAda also affirms
> that for those who gain knowledge through the saMskAra-s of previous births,
> the result of Self-knowledge cannot be prohibited, because knowledge has a
> sure result (yeShaM punaH pUrva-kRta-saMskAra vaSAd vidura-dharmavyAdha
> prabhRtInAM jnAnotpattis teshAM na Sakyate phalaprAptiH pratisheddhum,
> jnAnasya aikAntika phalatvAt). He also notes that the itihAsa-purANa is open
> to everybody (SrAvayec caturo varNAn iti ca itihAsa-purAna-adhigame cAtur-
> varNyasya adhikAra-smaraNAt). So much for those who have adhikAra and
> those who are exceptions among those who do not have adhikAra. In this and
> previous bhAshya passages on adhikAra, the focus is only on varNa and nothing
> has been said yet about ASrama and how that is involved in gaining jnAna.
> As mentioned earlier, you are correct about Sankara bhagavatpAda's conclusion
> regarding brahmasaMsthA and saMnyAsa ASrama. Even if one holds that there
> is no specific injunction to take up the state of the wanderer (parivrAjaka), one
> cannot deny the characteristics of the renouncer (parAmarSe 'pi itareshAm
> ASramANAM, pArivrAjyaM tAvad brahma-samsthatA-lakshaNaM labhyeta eva).
> I would now like to draw your attention to the rest of the bhAshya passage in
> 3.4.20, where the bhagavatpAda mentions that bAdarAyaNa has discussed the
> case for injunctions with regard to saMnyAsa without taking the jAbAla upanishat
> into account. The jAbAlopanishat gives a direct injunction for taking up another
> ASrama - vidyata eva tv ASramAntara-vidhi-SrutiH pratyakshA. He then quotes
> the full jAbAla text about pArivrAjyam, which allows for sequential progression
> from brahmacaryA to gRhastha to vAnaprastha to saMnyAsa or for direct taking
> up of saMnyAsa from any of the previous stages.
> Now it is possible to respond to this and say that even this sequential or direct
> progression to saMnyAsa presumes the adhikAra belonging to dvija-s and that
> brahmacaryA and vAnaprastha ASrama-s do not make sense for anybody else.
> The response to such a position on adhikAra is given by Sankara bhagavatpAda
> himself in the same passage - pRthag vidhAnAd anadhikRtAnAM, "atha punar eva
> vratI vA avratI vA, snAtako vA asnAtako vA, utsannAgnir anagniko vA" ityAdinA.
> Clearly, he sees the above jAbAlopanishat sentence as specifically applying to
> the cases of exceptions, people without traditional adhikAra to take up vrata-s,
> to be snAtaka-s or to establish the ritual fires. Inspite of the lack of adhikAra in
> these regards, the jAbAlopanishat grants, indeed enjoins, the state of saMnyAsa
> for those who have brahmajnAna. He further drives home this point by saying,
> "brahmajnAna-paripAka-angatvAc ca pArivrAjyasya na anadhikRta-vishayatvam"
> meaning that the state of pArivrAjya, i.e. saMnyAsa, has for its sole adhikAra
> either brahma-jnAna or brahma-jijnAsA. (Later authors such as vidyAraNya
> describe these as vidvat saMnyAsa and vividishA saMnyAsa.) When you take
> the bhAshya on sUtra-s 1.3.38 and 3.4.20 together, it is clear that adhikAra for
> studying the veda and performing vaidIka rituals is different from the adhikAra
> for brahma-jnAna and its attendant saMnyAsa. To say that only brAhmaNas by
> birth can achieve liberation through Self-knowledge and that everybody else
> has to be born a brAhmaNa in a future life before getting liberated from the
> cycle of birth and death is not at all Sankara bhagavatpAda's intention. It is no
> doubt a very attractive proposition for "conservative" tastes, while the apparent
> lack of concern on Sankara's part for "social reform" through knowledge will be
> jarring to "liberals", but neither side really understands the tradition very well.
> The saMskAra-s that lead to Self-knowledge and liberation in a future birth do
> not necessarily ensure future brAhmaNa or even just dvija births. The examples
> of vidura and dharmavyAdha demonstrate this amply.
> At this juncture, let me conclude with the comment on the word atha in the very
> first sUtra - "nityAnitya-vastu-vivekaH ... ... ... teshu hi satsu ... Sakyate brahma
> jijnAsituM jnAtuM ca, na viparyaye. ... sAdhana-sampatty Anantaryam upadiSyate"
> - nowhere does Sankara bhagavatpAda say that only brAhmaNa-s or even only
> dvija-s have the ability to develop the sAdhana sampat. Again, the examples of
> vidura and dharmavyAdha demonstrate this amply.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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