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

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Tue Aug 17 05:23:41 CDT 2010

Hare Krishna

Shankara BhagavatpAda in his bhAShyA on the Brahma sutras 4.1.13-15 makes 
clear that both the past sins and merits as well as future sins and merits
will be destroyed by jnAna. The karma, both good and bad, that is
accumulated from the past but that has not yet begun to yield results is
also called sanchita karma. The karma, both good and bad, of the present
life, that will yield results in the future is called AgAmI karma. 

>  While on the subject, shankara makes an interesting observation in 
sUtra bhAshya with regard to jnAni's saNchitAgAmi karma.  Shankara says 
after the dawn of knowledge there is no question of AgAmi karma and 
jnAni's pApa & puNya in saNchita kArma which he accrued before the dawn of 
jnAna would be distributed to his children, friends & foes!! children 
would take away his wealth, friends would get the 'puNya' share of 
saNchita karma and his enemies would share the sin (pApa) part of it!! 
tastya priyA jnAtayaH sukrutamupayantyapriyA dushkrutaM (kaushitaki 1.4) 
tasya putrA dAyamupayanti suhrudaH sAdhukrutyAM dvishantaH pApakrutyAM 
(shAtyAyana shAkhA shruti).. 

It is also true that PrAyashcittas will cancel the pApa karma that one has
performed in the past. The past pApa karma could be jnAta, known, or it
could be ajnAta, not known or recollected. It is not the case that
PrAyashcitta must be done only for sins that we recollect or that are from
this life. For example, the AshleShA bali is a karma that is performed to
ward off what is called sarpa dosha, which would arise if one has killed
nAga snake (cobra). The PavamAna Homa of the Rig Vedins or
the kUshmANDa Homa of the Yajurvedins are prAyashcitta homas that are 
to get rid of a variety of sins whether they are jnAta or ajnAta.  The 
prAyaschcitta is often anlayzed as: prAyo nAma tapaH proktaM cittaM
nishchaya uchyate | taponishchayasaMyogAt prAyashcittamiti smR^itam.h .
PrAya is tapas or penance, while citta is a resolution. The resolve to do
penance is called prAyashcitta.

>  It is also to be noted that by taking undue advantange of this 
prayaschitta karma-s one should not indulge in deliberate / intentional 
sinful acts!! He should not think in such a way that : anyway there is 
ashlesha bali let me kill cobra or there will always be vedOkta 
prAyaschitta karma, let me do this pApa kArya now to gain something, later 
on I will observe those prayaschitta karma-s with utmost shraddha since it 
has the capacity to nullify the evil effects of pApa karma which I am 
doing now !!  No, for this type of 'smart' thinking & behavior no big 
scale kUshmAnda hOma-s or pavamAya hOma would help:-)) Interestingly 
shankara says there is no prAyaschitta for the 'patita-s of saNyAsa 
Ashrama' in sUtra bhAshya. 

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

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