[Advaita-l] Pitrupaksha questions

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 08:53:56 CDT 2011

Hari Om, Srikantaji,

On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 1:35 PM, Srikanta Narayanaswami <
srikanta.narayanaswami at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I would like to bring to your attention that SriShankara Bhagawathpada in
> his commentary of the BG slokah
> 4.18,doesnot bring doership as it is superimposed on the Atman,that is
> actionless.He has discussed this earlier in his commentary by taking the
> example of a boat moving in waters,and giving the illustration of relative
> motion(he  brings the relativistic motion!).

Factually, Bhagavatpada has explained BG verse 4.18 exactly in the context
of superimposition of body on the Atman:

"And as a consequence of the superimposition of action pertaining to the
body etc. on the Self, there arises such ideas as, 'I am an agent; this is
my action; its result is to be enjoyed by me.'  देहाद्याश्रयं कर्म
आत्मन्यध्यारोप्य 'अहं कर्ता, मम एतत् कर्म, मया अस्य कर्मणः फलं भोक्तव्यम् '
इति च" with that example of boat moving and relative motion of trees on
banks. With this understanding, one has to perceive inaction in action,
there is none of that of the Atman. That is the siddhAnta.

> But,after wards he brings the purvapaksha of a vrttikara,perhaps
> Bhatrprapancha
> and discusses whether nityakarma has to be performed.He says that
> performance of karmas are sorrowful either way.If one performs in involves
> sorrow,on the otherhand if it is not performed it involves
> "pratyavaya"dosha.So,either way there is dorrow incurred.He then quotes the
> BG slokah,"na satovidyate bhavah,na bhavo vidyate satah"and further says in
> the asat(non performance)there is no Phala,thereby,concludes his commentary
> that there is no phala in the nonperformance.This is the siddhanta by
> Sri.Shankara Bhagawath pada.There is no selectivity in the performance of
> karma.The Purva mimamsakas insisted on performance of only nitya and
> naimitaka karmas.So,in his commentary Sri.Shankara Bhagawath pada says ,no
> dosha is incurred in this.

 Kind Sir, in my previous reply, I gave the verse from Bhagavatpada's
commentary on BG 4.18 that that performance of karmas is not sorrowful, but
performance of niShphala karma is sorrowful. This is his refutation only of
the following view of purvapaksha:

"This verse is interpreted by some in another way. How?(Thus:) 'Since the
daily obligatory duties (nityakarmas) certainly have no results when
performed as a dedication to Ishvara, therefore, in a secondary sense, they
are said to be inaction. Again, the non-performance of these (nitya-karmas)
is inaction; since this produces an evil result, therefore it is called
action, verily in a figurative sense. अयं श्लोकः अन्यथा व्याख्यातः कैश्चित्।
कथम्? नित्यानां किल कर्मणाम् ईश्वरार्थे अनुष्ठीयमानानां तत्फलाभावात्
अकर्माणि तानि उच्यन्ते गौण्या वृत्त्या। तेषां च अकरणम् अकर्म; तच्च
प्रत्यवायफलत्वात् कर्म उच्यते गौण्यैव वृत्त्या।"

The above clarifies the misinterpretation of 'inaction in action' by
thinking that Bhagavan is saying that nityakarma performed with devotion to
Ishvara gives no results and so such karma is akarma (because as clarified
later niShphala karma is painful/sorrowful and being recommended by shruti,
such interpretation of Gita shloka would go against shruti). In other words,
Shankaracharya says that nityakarma can't be niShphala/ painful/ sorrowful
because shruti recommends it. Also he clarifies the misinterpretation of
'action in inaction' by thinking that it means that nonperformance of
nityakarma gives evil results and so such akarma becomes karma! What is to
be understood here is that nonperformance of nityakarma doesn't give evil
results but it is of the form of 'lack of good results that come from
nityakarma'. For a sAdhaka, be it a mumukshu, nonperformance of
nitya/naimittika karma doesn't help him in strengthening sAdhana cAtuShTaya.
His mumukshutva doesn't become strong enough to result in
sarva-karma-sannyAsa. In the next shloka, he explains who/sannyAsi gives up

 Further,you are objecting that,"If all karma is to be given up,sarva-karma
> -sannyasa is the way.
> What is Sannyasa?Is it giving up the dress one is wearing,and takeup a
> Khavi dress?

Definitely not. The khAvi/ ochre dress is an outward appearance for a person
who is a sarva-karma-sannyAsi, who has officially adopted sannyAsa Ashrama
but just wearing ochre doesn't mean sarva-karma-sannyAsa, as much as one
claiming to be a j~nAni, doesn't make him a j~nAni. Anyway, this is answered
in Shankaracharya's Bhashya on the next Gita shloka 4.19:

"He who knows the truth about action and inaction as explained before is
free from actions owing to the very fact of his seeing 'inaction' etc. He is
a sannyAsi, who acts merely for the purpose of maintaining the body  यस्तु
अकर्मादिदर्शी, सः अकर्मादिदर्शनादेव निष्कर्मा संन्यासी जीवनमात्रार्थचेष्टः
सन् कर्मणि न प्रवर्तते."

That should sort out that Bhagavatpada is not talking of giving up merely
nitya-naimittika karma but all karmas except those that maintain the body.
That is defined as sannyAsa. The rest of the commentary is for one who can't
give up karma due to prArabdha "for the sake of preventing people from going

So unless you're saying that all karma is to be given up, including earning
money, accumulating any material wealth, entertainment such as movies, etc,
but not limited to those, you're talking of selectively giving up only
nitya-naimittika karma. In other words, if there is ever a sequence of
giving up karma, it necessarily has to be giving up those listed & other
laukika karma and the last to quit would be nitya-naimittika karma. It
cannot be other way around of quitting only nitya-naimittika karma and
holding on to many of the laukika karmas.

--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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