[Advaita-l] Knowledge, renunciation and varNASrama rules

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Aug 19 01:31:59 CDT 2010

On Mon, 16 Aug 2010, Varadaraja Sharma wrote:

> Whereas dvija males can 
> renounce all these, I fail to understand, when sthri shudradi vyaktis 
> have not even adhikara for performance of vaidika karmas, wherein the 
> question arise of renouncing them.

Karma refers to all volitional action whether vaidika or laukika.  The 
reason why shastras keep mentioning renouncing agnihotra etc. is because 
it is the archetype of karma.  But just because using a computer is not 
mentioned in the Vedas doesn't make it any less of a karma to be 
renounced if one seeks mukti.  Indeed such an error of restriction 
leads to the perverse idea of modern pseudoadvaitins that you can do 
anything you like _except_ for religious rituals.

Simple observation should show you that non-dvijas also perform volitional 
acts for dharma, artha, and kama.  Should they come to the realization 
that such acts only entangle one in samsara, they can renounce them.  And 
this renunciation is sannyasa.  Had Venkateshamurti restricted his 
argument to the idea that this is a different type of sannyasa to 
shrotriya Brahmanas everyone would have agreed with him.  But he is saying 
it is not sannyasa at all and that is a distortion of the siddhanta.

> I do not question the deductions arrived at on the basis of bhashya but 
> would like to clear doubts / misunderstanding on specifics in this 
> regard. I have heard even knowledgeable people interpretting Bhagawan 
> discouraging Arjuna not to take up sanyasa as one of kshathriya not 
> eligible for the Sanyasa Ashrama.  The discussion on this aspect in fact 
> went on like even Adya Acharyal has restricted sanyasa only for 
> brahmanas.  Latter on the discussions took a turn that Sureshvaracharya 
> in his varthikas had interpreted the shastras to mean that sanyasa 
> ashrama is available for dvija males.  (was it an explicit and 
> restrictive opinion by Sureshvaracharya?)  In another thread, Shriman 
> Jaldhar Vyas, although not elaborated had indicated that sthri shudradi 
> vyaktis are entitled for sanyasa.

Hope the above clarified things.  The adhikara for sannyasa is jnana. 
Arjuna was not a jnani, indeed he had cowardly and self-serving reasons 
for giving up his kingdom.  Bhagavan could not allow that because as 
Shankaracharya explains in the gitabhashya, as long as there is one iota 
of identification with the ego every single rule of shastras is binding. 
A jnani is not bound by the shastras because they simply do not apply to 
one who is free of ego.  But it is right and proper to uphold that e.g. a 
woman cannot study Vedas, or a kshatriya must fight for a kingdom etc. 
because the adhikara for such things depends on characteristics of the 
limited self such as gender, age ,varna. ashrama, wealth, learning etc.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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