Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Nov 18 20:53:32 CST 1996

From: Ms. Aikya Param <aikya at IX.NETCOM.COM>

> There was not speculation.  Refer to Bhagavad Giitaa, 3:4
> ##na hi kashchit.h kshanamapi jaatu tishhTatyakarmakR^it.h |
> kaaryate havashaH kaarma sarvaH prakR^itijairguNaiH || 4 ||##
> Everyone is always engaged in doing karma even if it is just
> the actions which maintain life like eating, drinking, etc..

First of all by a Dharmashastra I meant a work like the Mitakshara which
laids down the rules for the various types of people including Sannyasis.
The Bhagavad Gita is a Mokshashastra.  However let us examine this shloka
and see if it bolsters your claims.

I assume the words below it are a paraphrase.  As a translation they are
so mind-bogglingly bad they could not be anything else but a paraphrase.
(Then again you did mention how lackadaisical your Guru was in teaching
Sanskrit so who knows.)  An accurate translation would be something like
the following:

"Not even for a moment can one stay here without Karma for all the Gunas
of Prakriti force one to act."

The goal of the Mumukshu is not to stay here.  However for one who does
stay here there is no alternative but to perform karma.  Remember it is
initially Arjuna who is arguing for renunciation.  But for completely the
wrong reason.  He is scared to fight.  For such a person Karma is the
prescribed path.  The Mumukshu needs no karma as he is after Brahman which
is beyond the three Gunas.

You're correct that even small karmas are nevertheless karma.  Very well,
I modify my position to allow that jnanis are permitted to breathe :-)
But only small karmas like that and eating and sleeping.  Bigger karmas
(like growing vegetables :-) are still out.  Even in the matter of small
karmas which are neccessary to live you see that sannyasis seek to
eliminate by fasting, control of the breath etc.

> You have a very good point.  Then please can you explain away Janaka?

What is there to explain.  In the Brhadaranyakopanishad he is depicted as
the pupil of Maharshi Yagnavalkya.  It is neccessary and proper for one in
that state to continue performing karma.  Then there are statements like
in the Gita 3.20. karmanaiva hi samsiddhimasthita janakadayah.  "By karma
alone did Janak etc. reach their goal."  This means by Karma alone, only
by the performance of karma not by desire for its fruits, did he and those
like him reach their goal.  The idea is not that renunciation of
karmaphala is enough to achieve Moksha but only that it is a neccessary
step.  Those that didn't even do that much certainly didn't reach their

> There have been householder Gyaanis even in this century.  Perhaps another
> list member would know specific examples.  I heard about someone in
> Bombay who the students of my guru visited sometimes.

Non-sannyasis can certainly talk of Vedanta.  Shri Vachaspati Mishra and
Shri Appaya Dikshit are grhasthas whose works are assidiously studied even
today.  But talking is not the same as doing and no member of
Shankaracharyas parampara would ever say that mere speech about Brahman
was enough for Moksha.

> > In the west we don't have a sannyaas option the way there is in India. It's
> > not quite the same thing to join the ranks of the homeless as it is to
> > join the ranks of the sadhus in India.  Sanyaas is a lifestyle option
> > within a social system which also supports those who choose it.  It
> > has clear legal and religious definitions.
> >
> Of course we have a sannyasa option in the west.  It may take more effort
> and you may not have the willpower to pursue it but that's  your problem
> not the Wests.
> It is interesting that you think you know or comment on another's will
> power, especially someone who is unknown to you and whose life struggles
> and triumphs you do not know.  .

One hardly needs clairvoyant powers, your words are on display for all to
see.  If you truly wish to maintain this untenable proposition, tell me
what is so special about America, what magical powers does the West possess
which prevents Sannyasa.  I'm sceptical because several years ago after my
Yagnopavit I resolved on the advice of our families' Shukla ji that I
would learn a little Sanskrit and live as a Brahman should.  Then also
people said "You can't wear a tilak in America.  We can't wear a dhoti to
work in America etc. ad nauseum."  And I observed that those who spoke
that way hadn't actually bothered to find out if it was true.  They spoke
that away out of laziness or fear of the Whites or whatever.  Yet with
some initial trepidation I tried it and I found out I could do it.  Now I
practice my Dharma with a fidelity my Grandfather couldn't find fault
with.  The point is with effort everything is possible.  If you do not
want to make the effort do not blame external causes only yourself.

> I am not especially troubled by the cultural situation I described.
> It is only a cultural difference.  It cannot change who you/I really are/am as
> Paramaatma so how could it be a problem?
> > This knowledge has gone beyond those India.  It's important to look
> > at what is the intention, the idea behind these social forms referred to
> > in these texts..
> >

The Veda and the shastras that depend on them do not admit of cultural
differences and lifestyle options.  They are clear that deviation
from their tenets is a sin.  Think about it why do the Acharyas expend so
much energy of defeating the Buddhists?  Were they not just "doing their
own thing"?  And Shankaracharya is not troubled in the slightest by the
texts which say women and Shudras are not entitled to study the
Upanishads.  This kind of clash of world views occured before in our
history.  By calling ourselves Vedantins we admit to being of the party of
the narrow-minded.

As for Vedanta flourishing in the West, I see little evidence of this if
some recent posts are anything to go by.  It is easy to see why a
philosophy which carelessly rubber stamps any "lifestyle" or "experience"
its' adherents dream up (and perhaps annoints with a little gibberish)
might become popular though.

> You write "our dharma" and then the rest.  Is there not a contradiction?


> > Also, it may help if people remember that Shankara was writing for a bunch
> > of swamis often so he could make his comments in support of the lifesyle
> > they all had adopted.

On this I should further add Shankaracharya commented on the Bhagavad Gita
which is not just for Sannyasins.  As part of the Mahabharata it is for
all people and is an upaya for those who have no access to the Vedas.

> If all this world  is illusory, what is the necessity to flee or withdraw
> from it?  Don't you want to see the illusory nature while at the same
> time knowing the truth about the self? Then you can be right in the
> thick of it but not entranced.

No I don't want to see the illusionary nature.  If I am studying it, it is
in order to transcend it.

> Our classes covered "Vedanta" very well.

If you continue to believe the jnanakarmasamuccayavada is exceptable to
Vedanta then you didn't cover it well enough.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at braincells.com]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
Consolidated Braincells Inc.                          /     \
http://www.braincells.com/jaldhar/ -)~~~~~~~~  Perth->*.--._/  o-
"Witty quote" - Dead Guy   /\/\/\ _ _ ___ _  _ Amboy       v      McQ!

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