[Advaita-l] jnAna-karma samuccaya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Nov 21 01:31:28 CST 2010

Dear Shrinivas ji,

Let me say a few words on the observations you have made:

On Sun, Nov 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM, Shrinivas Gadkari
<sgadkari2001 at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Namaste Shri Sastri,
> Thanks for your post that clarified an advaitin's stand on mixing jnAna
> and karma in an easy to understand manner.
> What I find somewhat unsatisfying in such explanations is the following:
> bhagavAna (mahA) viSNu and bhagavAna (parama) shiva, inspite of their
> limitless jnAna, have not given up the karma of protecting the dharma,
> and opposing adharma, evil. They never take an indifferent stand on
> even the smallest vyavahArika event. For someone who is devoted to
> these two, renouncing karma (vyavahAra) on attainment of jnAna somehow
> does not make seem to be the path to adopt.

The question of Jnana-karma samucchaya that Sri Sastri ji has addressed is
something that is concerned with one's attaining to the liberating jnana.
The position of the Shastram is that the final liberating Jnana gives
liberation independently, without having to take the support of karma.  And
'karma' in all this discussion means 'shAstra vihita karma' for that sadhaka
that is appropriate for his varna-ashrama.

On the other hand what you have stated above pertains to dharma-rakshana,
adharma-nigrahaNa, which is an altogether different topic.  The
sadhaka/adhikAri is not expected to concern himself with dharma-rakshana and
the other.  His is the domain of sva-dharma / karma anuShThAna.  This is
what is required for him for chitta shuddhi and will help in gaining Atma
Jnana that destroys avidya and results in moksha.  The 'renouncing' of karma
spoken of in the context of a Jnani is only this sva-dharma / karma.  Even
here, upon attainment of Atma jnanam, it is the onset of the bhAva of
akartA, 'I am not the doer/experiencer' that results in the automatic
'naishkarmya' bhAva for the Jnani.  Shankaracharya explicitly says, in many
of the places across the commentaries, that for an aparoksha jnani there
remains nothing to be done.  This is only pertaining to the sva-dharma/karma
aspect in the sense that there is nothing for him to 'do' in order to attain
any particular puruShArtha.  In that sense alone the term 'renunicaiation'
is applied in these contexts.

However, the Jnani, if he is in a position where he can influence others,
will engage in those actions that will help protect dharma and prevent
adharma.  The earlier Acharya of Sringeri, Sri Abhinava VidyAtIrtha Swamiji
has openly said in a Kannada discourse: 'Just because we are Sannyasins we
are not a-karmins'.  What He meant was: These Sannyasins who occupy
positions as Peethadhipathis will not remain idle; they will engage in a
number of activities that go to promote dharma.  His daily schedule was
something that would make one wonder if anyone coulde accomplish so much

Shankaracharya Himself, despite being a Jnani and a Sannyasin, accomplished
so much in the field of dharma-rakshana.  So, it is action not directed at
achieving any puruShArtha for oneself that is involved here.  Whereas in
Jnana-karma samucchaya discussion it is  the karma that is varNa-Ashrama
specific, aimed at achieving a puruShArtha, that is involved.  If we keep
this fundamental difference between the two: the aspirant/Jnani and Ishwara,
we will have no difficulty in appreciating that Jnana and karma, that too a
lot of it, can and do go hand in hand.

Sri Krishna Himself teaches in the Bhagavadgita third chapter that the
Jnani, while remaining amidst ajnanis, *should fully engage in all types of
karma* and be a role-model to them.  Sri Vidyaranya too in the Panchadashi
has said this.  When a Jnani engages in karma, even nitya karma, it comes
under the category of dharma-rakshanam.

> If, however, an advaitin feels that on attainment of jnAna they reach a
> state
> that these two deities have yet to attain, then of course that closes the
> argument.
> However, someone like me will find such a theory somewhat unpalatable.

If we see the distinction in the roles of a Jnani and Ishwara, we will have
no conflict as the one you have voiced.  The Jnani who remains in society,
amidst people, will be doing all that is required for dharma rakshana and
dharma vardhana.  His upadesham by formal discourses and actions by
participation in innumerable activities like homas, kumbhAbhiShekam,
pratiShTha, installing new Mutts, etc. all are directed at dharma rakshanam
which is indeed Ishwara kAryam.  An advaitin never views attainment of Jnana
is something that puts the Jnani above Ishwara.  It is only the Jnani that
is by nature completely indrawn, like Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Swamiji of
Sringeri, that would withdraw from actions to a great extent.  But, even in
His case, the quantum of work done for dharma sthApanam, rakshaNam and
vardhanam  is immense.  In such people's case, it is nothing but Ishwara's
work that is being done.  You may feel assured that there is no room in
sampradaya Advaita for the apprehension you have expressed above.

The term 'samucchaya' is a technical one and Shri Sastri ji has clearly
brought out its implications.  The Jnani's engaging in karma aimed at dharma
rakshanam is clearly out of the purview of 'samucchaya'.



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