Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Aug 15 06:56:22 CDT 1997

Ok I see my name is being taken in vain. :-)  Let me clarify what I am
actually saying and have said about sannyasa.

First of all, in the currents threads there are two issues being
discussed: 1. Is sannyasa neccessary for jnana? and 2.  Does sannyasa mean
just the external marks of sannyasa such as danda etc?

I may not thinks of Shankaracharya as the pope but I repect him enough to
actually read what he has to say and I have done it in the original
Sanskrit not relying on potentially misleading translations.
Shankaracharya is unequivocal.  Jnana and Karma are utterly distinct and
cannot be combined in any way.  This idea is hammered home time and time
again in all his major works.  Look it up and see for yourself.

Perhaps in theory a Grhastha can avoid karma but in practice they cannot.
Take for example a parent.  You do not actually have to be one yourself to
realize there is a deep attachment between parent and child.  Various
utopian movements have recognized this and tried to get around it by have
children raised in communal dorms etc.  These experiments have universally
ended in disaster.  An attitude of vairagya between parent and child is
just not possible.  And without vairagya how can there be jnana?

It was suggested that if one does ones duties without regard to the
results it is good enough.  This view is an old one.  There were a section
of the Mimamsakas who had the same view.  For a refutation I direct you to
the Sambandhavartika[1]  The gist of it is even the actions which are
performed as obligations[2] and not for the sake of reward do in fact
cause papa and punya.  Karma can only lead to more karma.

Support from the Shruti for these views is asked for.  As Nanda mentioned
the Ishopanishad, lets look there.  there is the statement "By karma alone
one should live for a hundred years"  A hundred years is the traditional
span of a human life.[3] So what this means is that in order to live
worldly life one must do karma.  Furthermore in the Brhadaranyakopanishad
there is a statement "He leaves there never to return"  He refers to the
sannyasi and and there refers to the world.  This is why in the Advaita
tradition a sannyasi cuts of his shikha and stops wearing the yagnopavita.
These are both symbols of the ability to perform rituals.[4]

The next question is about the nature of sannyasa.  Does it mean only the
Sannyasa ashrama with the danda, and saffron clothes etc. or are the
qualities of a sannyasi enough.  It is plain from the shastras that the
second view is correct.  There are many classifications of Sannyasis and
one of these is the paramahansa who owns nothing not even a begging bowl
and does nothing except meditate on the omkara.  However most people who
become sannyasis are not going to have such a radical isolation from
society.  They then have to ensure that society which is still mired in
sansara is not lead astray.[5] They also have to make sure they don't get
ensnared themselves.  This is the point of the various custome associated
with sannyasa ashram.  If one is eligble for them, what possible reason
could there be to not do them?

Accepting the idea that Sannyasa is a matter of qualities rather than acts
in no way invalidates my view on question 1.  The qualities such as
vairagya are simply not present in householders.

[1](Which is a part of Sureshvaracharyas monumental commentary on the
Brhadaranyakopanishadbhashya.  Not only was Sureshwaracharya a direct
student of Shankaracharya but in his purvashrama he was Mandana Mishra one
of the greatest Mimamsakas and thus in a unique position to explain karma
and jnana.)

[2] i.e. nitya and naimittika,

[3] Like in English we say "three score years and ten"

[4] Compare this with Vaishnava Tridandi sannyasis who keep both.  This is
because in their philosophy jnana and karma can be combined.

[5] i.e. someone might say "That sannyasi has given up his dharmic
obligations so I can too."

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