[Advaita-l] Pitrupaksha questions.

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Sep 27 23:32:57 CDT 2011

On Sat, 24 Sep 2011, Srikanta Narayanaswami wrote:

> Firstly,is the purpose of this list is to know the 
> truth,or going round in riddles arguing about the karmakandha rituals 
> etc.without knowing the core of the knowledge,which is advaita.

The truth is knowing the core of the knowledge as a slogan is not enough 
it has to be realized in every word and thought and deed.  As this is not 
an automatic process, various aids have been given by our rshis and 
acharyas, the chief of which is karmayoha.

> .What iam saying is :can we continue to 
> get entangled in the cage of karmakandha performing the rituals without 
> making an attempt towards knowing the Jnana kandha?

No of course not.  What I and others have have been reacting to is the 
notion that "attempting to know" is a sufficient excuse to shirk ones 
duty.  If you are now repudiating that view then I have nothing else to 

> when we have come to 
> shankara again racking up Mandanamishra and others you are quoting,it is 
> meaningless.I would like to state here shankara also is a mimamsaka who 
> enquires into the karmakhandha questions and in his bhashyas has raised 
> this matter again and again.

Again, if that is all you had said there would be no controversy.  In fact 
you made some highly inaccurate if not scurrilous allegations about 
Mimamsa and its relationship with Vedanta.

> I hope you are fully convesent with the 
> bhashyas.What I said was not,"when one has come to vedantha which is 
> jnana kandha from the karma kandha,and is convinced of the advaitha 
> siddhantha that "atman is Brahman and eternal",one need not continue to 
> perform the shraddha to his ancestors."What I said was,if one is 
> convinced that the karma rituals is suffocating him and if one wants to 
> fly out of the cage of karmakandha,should he still flutter helplessly in 
> the karma cage?

There is a false dilemmna here.  If one is suffocating, the first question 
is why am in pain?  The next is who is this person who feels pleasure and 
pain?  Depending on the questioner, the answer might very well be more 

Last weekend my daughter had to write an essay on the country of Brazil 
for school.  How she procrastinated! How she whined and pleaded to be 
released from this burdensome task!  However were I to let her "fly out 
from the cage of homework" I would be judged as a bad parent would I not? 
Because as a mature person I should have better understanding than a ten 
year old that the greater work and effort of education compared to playing 
outside will actually lead to less sorrow in the long run than remaining 
ignorant.  If this is true for laukika karma then how much more so will be 
true for adhyatmic karma?

You quote from the gitabhashya but I'm sure you realize that in the Gita, 
Bhagavan teaches Arjuna that he _must_ perform his karma as a Kshatriya 
king.  It is Arjuna who makes all the pious noises.  "What use is a 
kingdom?" is a lovely Vedantic thought no?  But Krishna Bhagavan 
demonstrates to him that his "renunciation" is a sham.  You too are 
arguing for a sham renunciation of some things while remaining mired in 
others.  This is svArtha not paramArtha.

> Now,I come to your important question,regarding mortgage 
> payment and tell the bank manager that iam vedantin etc.etc.as you have 
> written : Now I ask you two questions;1)I may be under debt to my 
> pitris,so pitris will take care of it.who the hell is the bank 
> manager?

karma is the bank manager.  Your action and inaction has effects and the 
effect will not be denied simply if you try and wish it away.

> The repayment is between me and the pitris.I will take care of 
> it.Whether it is by funds,or any other means who is the bankmanager to 
> object to it.

One difference between Mimamsa and Vedanta is that for the former, karma 
is a purely automatic process.  For the latter it is Bhagavan who arranges 
reward for the virtuous and punishment for the wicked.  Regardless of the 
source, the objection will be made.

> How is it solved by taking sanyasa.

sannyasa is not the means to the solution but the solution itself.  It is 
the state when one has realized the illusionary nature of all the pairs of 
opposites such as good and evil, pleasure and pain etc.

> till now I was under darkness,and the compassion of a benevolent Guru 
> has opened my eyes!He says,'you are free!You need not pay a thing!Then 
> what happens?Should I continue paying the loan amount foolishly to the 
> manager?

If saying "you are free" (shravana) were enough we could wind down the 
list and simply play an mp3 of the mahavakyas in an infinite loop.  But 
one has to follow shravan with manana and nidhidhyasana.  Only then can 
one be sure that the lesson of "you are free" is not just flowery 

> Finally I would like to ask you,What is physical renunciation of nama 
> -rupa? Kindly explain.

As brhadaranyakopanishad 2.4 relates Maharshi Yajnavalkya achieved jnana.
Then he spoke to his wife Maitreyi thusly:

maitreyIti hovAcha yAGYavalkyaH udyAsyanvA are.ahamasmAtsthAnAdasmi hanta 
te.anyayA kAtyAyanyAntaM karavANIti || 1 ||

"'Maitreyi' said Yajnavalkya, 'Oh I am going to leave this place[1].  Let 
it be that I might make a finish[2] with you and the other, Katyayani[3]."

[1] Shankaracharya explains this place is gR^ihasthAShrama.  yAGYavalkya 
is going to leave it for parivrAjaka or sannyAsAshrama.  Now if he is 
already a jnani why is this necessary?  Because the householder life by 
definition is predicated on a form with name, gender, caste, education, 
wealth etc.  A jnAni has no use for any of these so he is 
naturally repelled from householder life.

[2] antaM karavANi "make a finish" is explained by Shankaracharya as 
vicchedaM karavANi dravyavibhAgaM kRItvA to make a settlement, to divide 
up  material property.  Why?  He is free?  He can just run off to the 
Himalayas right?  Wrong.  In accepting a kanya from her family at the time 
of marriage, he has made a commitment to look after her which must be 
honored.  He cannot renege on that promise, he must see that it is wound 
down in an orderly fashion and that she is properly cared for.  Then and 
only then is he free to renounce.

[3]  In fact Yajnavalkya has two wives.  Polygamy is not unknown in 
Hinduism but only the rich could afford it.  Apart from that he was the 
trusted adviser of a powerful emperor and perhaps because of that a great 
deal of material wealth.  (The stereotype of the Rshi as being a hermit in 
the forest is not always true.)  Yet he gave it all up.  Not just the 
shraddha or other "inconveniences" but all of it.  That is sannyasa.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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