[Advaita-l] Knowledge, renunciation and varNASrama rules

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 19 14:06:08 CDT 2010

Dear Venkatesh,

You are continuing to mix up jnAna and its necessary qualifications with adhikAra
for karmA.
> But kindly explain what do you think about 3 4.26 just few sutras
> after 3 4.20. Adi Sankara has said Vedic Yajnas and other Asrama
> karmas are necessary for Utpatti of Vidya even though not after Vidya
> rises. He does not say some other secular karmas. How Sudras and
> Stris can perform these Vedic Karmas?

In previous lives as dvija males? 
Read 3.4.26 in conjunction with 3.4.27, which concludes, vidyA-saMyogAt
pratyAsannAni vidyA-sAdhanAni Sama-damAdIni, vividishA-saMyogAt tu
bAhyatarANi yajnAdIni iti vivektavyam.
The performance of ritual karmA-s, although aiding in citta Suddhi and
preparing the mind for the rise of brahmajnAna, are still only external factors.
strI-s and SUdra-s (as much as brAhmaNa males) who have Sama, dama,
uparati, titikshA and samAdhAna as mental qualities along with vairAgya
already have the citta Suddhi necessary for brahmajnAna, so the question
of yajnAdi karmA in this life does not even arise. 

Throughout this section of the brahmasUtra bhAshya, Sankara bhagavatpAda
is talking of performance of ordained karmA as preparatory to jijnAsA. The
case of an acknowledged jnAnI is beyond the state of jijnAsA. This holds true
for any jnAnI, whether it is the brAhmaNa vyAsa or the SUdra vidura. Talking
of actions as being necessary after the rise of jnAna is like saying that a man
living on the banks of a lake with pure water still needs to dig a well in his
backyard to get water for drinking and cleaning.
> Moreover in 3 4.38 he says widowers and other Brahmins outside Asramas
> can do japa worship and other acts to get same effect as Asramis. But
> don't again say these can be Sudras and Stris. He does not say these
> outside Asrama persons can be Sudras and Stris.

Read 3.4.38 in conjunction with 3.4.36 and 3.4.37. In 3.4.38, he only says
"vidhurAdInAM" [***] which might lead you to believe that the discussion
is restricted to brAhmaNa males who are, for some reason or the other,
outside a proper ASrama category, e.g. a widower. If you read 3.4.36,
you will notice, he says, "vidhurAdInAM dravyAdi-saMpad-rahitAnAM ca 
anyatama-ASrama-pratipatti-hInAnAm antarAla-vartinAM". You may still
think that all these also refer only to brAhmaNa males who are widowers,
or poor and unable to offer the proper sacrifices of materials, or bereft of
one of the four ASramas or in between ASramas. You may still think that
this description excludes strI-s and SUdra-s. You would be wrong, because
the last sentence in 3.4.36 says, "raikva-vAcaknavI-prabhRtInAM". The
specific inclusion of a woman's name means that as per Sankara
bhagavatpAda's way of thinking, strI-s are not automatically excluded for
adhikAra for brahmavidyA. 
Let me also get one important clarification about your thinking, so that I can
see what your perspective is in this discussion. Does the concept of ASrama
apply to strI-s and SUdra-s? A brAhmaNa man marries a woman in order to
become a gRhastha. What is the ASrama of his wife? The SUdra man who
marries - is he a gRhastha too or not? Put another way, do you think that all
men belong to one of the four varNa-s, but only dvija-s (and in particular,
brAhmaNa men) can belong to one of the four ASrama-s? What is the varNa
and ASrama of any woman and what is the ASrama of a SUdra man who
supports his family?

If your answer is that the four ASrama-s do not apply to any strI or to any
SUdra man, then do they not fall under what Sankara bhagavatpAda describes
as "anyatama-ASrama-pratipatti-hIna" in 3.4.36? Under what category do you
think he quotes the name of vAcaknavI here?

If your answer is that a married SUdra can be called a gRhastha, then isn't
such a gRhastha taking the necessary steps to citta-Suddhi by materially
supporting his family and leading a productive life? Same goes for the 
married strI. If the married woman can be called a gRhasthA, isn't she
gaining citta Suddhi merely by fulfilling her roles and duties in life? 
Moreover, under the scenario of your allowing gRhastha status for women 
and married SUdra men, what objection would you have to classifying the
unmarried woman and unmarried SUdra man again as "anyatama-ASrama-

Getting back to 3.4.37 and 3.4.38, Sankara bhagavatpAda says "anapekshita
ASrama-karmaNAm api" and "asaMbhavAd ASrama-karmaNo'pi". These
terms apply not only to brAhmaNa males, but to anybody for whom there is
no expectation of ASrama-specific karmA (anapekshA) or for whom ASrama-
specific karmA is impossible (asaMbhava). He then goes on to say, "janma-
antara-anushThitair api ca ASrama-karmabhis saMbhavaty eva vidyAyA
anugrahaH. ... ... janmAntara-saMcitAn api saMskAra-viSeshAn", which is
exactly the same as what he says about vidura and dharmavyAdha attaining
to jnAna due to saMskAra-s of previous action (pUrva-kRta saMskAra vaSAt).

> These are referenced again in Jabala Sruti 'Atha Punareva Vratee Va
> Avratee Va Snatako Va Asnatako Va Utsannagnir Anagniko Va' in 3 4.20
> about Anadhikrutas. What do you say for this Sruti sentence?

I already discussed the wider implication of the word anadhikRta in my previous
posts on this topic.

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