[Advaita-l] The place of karma in a sadhaka's life (was Re: Pitrupaksha questions)

Srikanta Narayanaswami srikanta.narayanaswami at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 28 05:41:18 CDT 2011


From: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] The place of karma in a sadhaka's life (was Re: Pitrupaksha questions)

6)You say that prior to Jnana there has to be Jignasa.Exactly,but I see in this list only those who remain as karminah or those who donot want to think even of Jignasa or worse,not even an attempt is made.It is very easyy to quote from Karma granthas,but very difficult to understand  Jnana granths.But,inevitable some one in the list when it comes to the question of Jnana,takes the position of Karmasiddhantin.Evidently they are glued to Karmasiddhanta.This has been proved by the reples of many subscibers in the list.In this way,they are against SriShankara Bhagawathpada under whose name this list has been setup.This is rather unfortunate.
7)You have said that there are many considering their age that SriShankara Bhagawathpada is signignificant for a 16 yyear old member.Infact,When the present generation,the older generation is no exception,whenever they hear of SriShankara Bhagawathpada's name,they consider him one among the Triyumvirates,along with Ramanuja and madhva,without knowing that his contribution called Advaitha is very significant.And,they treat him equal to Rmanuja and Madhva without realising the unique place of Advaita.They say that Vishistadvaita and Dvaita are also vedantha,without knowing the meaning of the term"Vedantha".
8)My intention on the Rituals which are performed by the Purohits as agents is not to denigrade the rituals,nor is it to cast aspersion on the performance of karmas to one's ancestors,but to emphasise that over the years the performaces are riddled with lack of knowledge by the representatives,they getting more avaricious putting the sraddhavans to lot of harassment and turmoil,and the growing apathy of the Dharma sahaya sabhas,and in general the Matadhipathis,whose duty is to guide the aspirants and seekers.This was not the case about say 50 years ago
But today the meemasaka matha is at crossroads..We may not get a handful who can guide a sadhaka to guide him towards realisation.What we see today is some who have an hotch-potch knowledge!In the absence of this,what we need today is to understand SriShankara Bhagawathpada's trachings in their proper persrective without corrupting them.
Finally,I would like to say as a devoted member of this list,it is not my intention to put a member in a fix,much less to put him to embarassment,but it is my sincere wish that the list may become more informative and Lively,without any reservations or inhibitions.I feel that it is our duty to take the Advaita to greater realms of understanding without making it commonplace.I do feel that every member is entitled to voice his views,and stating one's views as per the Advaita siddhanta of sriShankara Bhagawathpada does not in any is an infringement on their rights.
P.S:I would like to add here without the force of my ego,that I have devoted more than 50 years of study in Advaitha vedantha.It started from my own reading on Advaitha,then Swami Chinmayanandaji,J.Krishnamurthi,
Dayananda saraswathiji,Ramachandraji,Brahmakumaris,study groups in Chinmaya mission,Ramana Maharshi,
self study of scriptures,discussion with many so called gurus,and lastly U.G.Krishnamurti.
All very true. Very well said. Extremely elegant and eloquent.
I have been myself an I-think-I-can-grasp-the-essence-of-Upanishads kind of individual you portrayed with the exception of may be looking down upon one's family and so can relate very well to what you said. I changed a bit after those days and wish to thank this list, the moderators and all contributors for helping me stay that way.
I see many in a similar mould and their tendencies being reinforced by most avenues open to them which proclaim to teach advaita, or talk of dharma/purana/itihasa/stotras while claiming to ultimately subscribe to Advaita: a) TV discourses (there are exceptions, but the major bias is towards smart-knowledge-spiritualism), b) Institutions which actively organise discourses and c) even some of the more accessible teachers. I know of a very learned scholar who taught prasthaanatraya bhaashyam spread over five years (with that kind of detail) - and repeated that in different cities / towns - with a decidedly dim view of karma like sandhyavandanam.
It is easy to identify the underlying forces which result in such a bias: the composition of the general public, a large majority of whom have, traditionally, no adhikaara for veda-adhyayana.
In such a situation, words like yours - and almost equally importantly, in the engaging manner put by you - need to be heard more.
Best regards

>From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
>To: Advaita List <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
>Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:10 PM
>Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Pitrupaksha questions
>> SriVijayshankar,
>> Lt all started with some one mentioning the Manusmrthi.Manu emphatically mentions,"Na stri
>>svatantryamarhati"rather than it is being lost over the course of time.
>I still do not see any connection between what Manu thought of women's rights and
>what is one's kartavyatA towards one's living and departed ancestors, in today's world.
>Let that be. You seem to have been singularly unfortunate in the choice of purohita-s
>who have officiated at your family rituals, but you seem to be finding fault with the
>whole tradition of mImAMsA as a result. From the beginning of time, there have been
>unscrupulous office bearers in every religion. Perhaps we have a lot more of them than
>otherwise, because of the unorganized and non-institutional nature of our dharma. Or
>perhaps, we can see the faults closer to our homes better than the faults elsewhere.
>It is easy enough for us to find fault with a brAhmaNa priest, especially if we have an
>education that equips us well for contemporary urban life. But that does not mean that
>you should do a false adhyAsa on all mImAMsaka-s for all times.
>I think you and a number of others are talking at cross-purposes on this topic. There is
>a place for karmA in one's life and there is a place for jnAna, but each person has to
>decide where their personal balance lies. If you think the traditionally minded people
>on this list advocate karmA as a means to moksha, then you are quite wrong. karmA
>is accepted and emphasized by the traditional folks here only with respect to the part
>of dharma that is pravRtti-oriented, and as a stepping stone to jnAna mArga. If there
>is a traditionally minded person on this list who thinks karmA is a means to moksha,
>rest assured that there are numerous other traditionally minded folks right here, who
>will tell them otherwise.
>Some of the questions asked on this list about such matters should really be addressed
>to a learned purohita, with the full understanding that there can be and is enormous
>regional variation in practice. Even within a linguistic group, one finds major and minor
>variations in ritual practice, all of which can be charming, delightful and meaningful, if
>seen from a broader perspective. Ritual details such as whether one should pour
>arghya this way or that way, whether one should wear yajnopavIta or prAcInAvIta for
>a particular action - all these are perhaps not immediately pertinent to this list as such,
>although they can be of great importance to the given ritual and the performer of that
>If you think that the focus of a few list members on the most intimate details of karmA
>is tiresome, to some extent, I would tend to agree with you. We give room for some
>of it on this list only because of the fact that worrying about these details is a small
>indication of the level of SraddhA in the veda and eventually in vedAnta. You will no
>doubt notice that some list members remain silent on these kinds of discussion topics
>while others say a lot. It is in the nature of a public discussion list to have various
>members with various motivations - loko bhinnaruciH.
>On the other hand, it is fashionable nowadays to think that advaita vedAnta advocates
>the giving up of only vaidika karmA and not of laukika karmA. The tendency for most
>people is to think as follows, "I will buy a costly house, a car or two, send my children
>to the 'best' schools, buy only designer clothing for all of them, save for retirement,
>etc. I am intelligent and I can read the Upanishads and their Bhashyas (if only in
>translation), understanding that I only need knowledge, not action, for my salvation. I
>don't see any meaning in rituals and I don't need to perform them. After all, all these
>rituals have only held back the social and economic 'development' of my father, mother,
>grandfathers and grandmothers. But I can do my job really well, earn money to take
>care of my family, thereby I will be a "karmayogi" and I can get liberation."
>What all the traditionally minded people on this list are saying is that the above thinking
>is flawed with respect to both karmA and jnAna. The bRhadAraNyaka upanishat says
>that those who renounced all action thought quite differently and said, "kiM prajayA
>karishyAmaH". Sankara bhagavatpAda talked of giving up ALL karmA, not selectively
>vaidika karma alone. A number of us have honestly assessed our adhikAra and have
>realized that while we can intellectually talk of advaita vedAnta, we are not actually
>ready for the stringent and stark requirements expected by Sankara bhagavatpAda and
>the upanishadic tradition for the jnAna mArga.
>It is only for that reason that we discuss the details of karmA. At the kurukshetra field,
>arjuna's false impulse to give up the war was not acceptable to kRshNa. He was told
>to first do the duty that he had already embarked upon and to do it well. A number of
>us on this list realize that we are a lot more like arjuna and a lot less like yudhishThira.
>Isn't it very revealing that yudhishThira, the most sannyAsi like of the pANDava-s had
>no hesitation once war was declared, and he didn't need hundreds of verses of upadeSa
>from kRshNa at that time?
>> I would like to say that in harping again and again that karmas are to be performed,this list is
>>relegating SriShankara Bhagawathpada as to be insignificant.No wonder many durmatas have
>>developed after his time!
>On the contrary, I see the average age of this list's members as a measure of how
>significant Sri Sankara bhagavatpAda continues to be and will continue to be for ever.
>Just the other day, we moderators advised a 16 year old prospective member to get
>permission from his parents and to start studying at a more formal level. And on this
>list, we do have you and others to emphasize a focus on jnAna!
>I would only request you to try and understand other list members a little better and
>not deride karmA prematurely. It is not the kindergartner's fault that he can only be
>taught ABC's and nursery rhymes. It would be the teacher's fault if s/he tried to teach
>the child about figures of speech and complex poetry before even teaching the ABC's. 
>> We can see clearly that there are no takers for Jnana.Only commercial activities are flourishing
>>in the name of Dharma.
>There are indeed many, many takers for jnAna. But prior to jnAna, there is jijnAsA. By
>default, a jijnAsu is not yet a jnAnI and it is a given that not all jijnAsu-s are ready to
>completely give up pravRtti mArga and take completely to nivRtti mArga. So long as one
>is in pravRtti mArga, one DOES need to pay attention to the dharma of that mArga. 
>However, if you think that every paisa given in dakshiNA to a purohita for a ritual is
>nothing more than a commercial transaction, you do need to think again. In any case,
>a personal need not to "waste" money on ritual fees and gifts is by no means a valid
>criterion for embarking upon jnAna. Indeed, naciketas embarked upon a journey to get
>jnAna only because he found that his father was NOT giving adequate ritual gifts! As
>such, these arguments about "commercial activity" and the false tarring of the entire
>tradition of mImAMsA (may I reiterate that vedAnta is also a mImAMsA) are bogus
>and specious.
>ps. I would request you to post in a calm frame of mind and to be a little more 
>circumspect in jumping to conclusions about other list members. Everybody is
>entitled to their own opinions, but it serves nobody's purpose to forcefully state
>one's opinion as if it were the only truth.                     -__________________________________________________________________________________________

First of all,Nachiketas didnot go to Naraka where Yamadharmaraja rules because his father didnot give enough gfts to the priests.Nachiketas was determined to meet Yama,and wanted to know from him the secret of Death.Read Katopanishath carefully,and the questions nachiketas asked Yama.
2)You are wrongly quoting me in the choice of Purohits.You have just picked up sentences without seeing the context.When my father died 51 years ago,many samaveda pundits were available who were extrordinary scholars.My father himself A Samaveda professor from the sanskrit Pathasala,himself who was heading the department performed Yaga and Yagnas, expert in the Samaveda lakshana,and written many scholarly books,who was associated with "Svadhyayamandal"which was headed by Mahamahopadhyaya Sripada Damodhara Sathvalekhar at Chalisgaon in Maharashtra near Aurangabad.What I said was during my father's time many Samaveda scholars were available(infact he had trained many pundits),but when my mother passed away 10 years ago,not even one of them were available.I had to go Varanasi to completete the rest of the rituals.There also I could find the same situation.Lack of Shraddha,lack of expertise,only commercial transactions and no concern on the part of the
 Purohits.If some one says it is not so,I am only forced to say that he is blind.

3)What I said was the Manusmrithi now a days is no longer in the same frame as it existed then.
There is no "Bhinnarucih"as far as Jnana is concerned.Either you are there or not.
4)while it is the duty of the advaita list is to highlight Advaita siddhanta,I find there is more emphasis on only karma and the rituals,which will not take us further.So,there should be more space for discussing the topics on Jnana.
5)My discussions on SriShankaraBhagawath pada and the importance of studying and assimilating the books by Sri shankara Bhagawathpada stems from the reply of some of the list subscribers who stick to their point of view irrespective of me pointing out on the contrary.These list members seem to stick to their views even if it is brounght to their notice the Sri Shankara's upadesha on these relevant points.They seem to stick to only the Karma siddhantha which is not any where found in the Bhagawath pada's bhashyas.

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