Householder (and other related topics)
gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Sun Aug 17 20:58:44 CDT 1997
>Shri Ramakrishnan, Giri and Vidyasankar (with only slight variations) say
>that while being a grihastha, one may be a jnani, but that is highly
It is always nice to be grouped among people who I consider to be
extremely knowledgable. These are just not the views of me and own
interpretations of upanishhad-s, shastras etc. but that of Shankara,
Vidyaaranya and their lineage up to their present age (as I understand
it). I am only going to address a few points you raised, because for the
other points also I need to quote from Shankara.
>The only obstacle is the mind, in whichever ashrama (grihastha or
>sannyasa) the person is in.
No one is denying this, just that the obstacle is much easier to
overcome in the sannyasa ashrama.
>Krishna chides Arjuna when Arjuna says he wants to take sannyasa and,
>Krishna is the All-knower.
Have you ever wondered why and read Shankara's and Madhusudana
sarasvati commentary on the Bhagavad gita ? You should have thought 'Is
Shankara contradicting Krishna ?' If you read the commentaries you will
find that Shankara exxplains why this is so beautifully. Let us take the
second verse of chapter 5 where this is addressed. 'Both renunciation and
karma yoga promote liberation; of the two; karma yoga is better.' Why
does Krsna say so ? Shankara himself says this requires critical
analysis and goes in great detail in the introduction of the chapter and
But then, these are just the views of Shankara and His lineage.
I can almost quote the entire introduction of Shankara for the fifth
chapter from memory, but, apparently, it is not fruitful to keep on
quoting Him, just because I like Him :-)
There is a question of being fit to take sannyas also. Let us take
the case of a person who wants to "escape" the responsiblites of the
world/dharma and decides to take sannyas (which is exactly what Arjuna is
doing). No saint or Ishvara would advice such a person to take sannyas.
They would ask people like Arjuna to perform their duty in a spirit of
dedication to Ishvara till they "obtain" enough chitta shuddi. Once they
have enough purification (not complete, of course), the aspirant may
itself take sannyas (or not), but would be "closer" to liberation. I had
addressed this point while talking about the two types of renunciation in
For example, Shankara says in BGB, 'Purification of the mind
occurs by performance of action with detachment and becomes fit for jnana
marga. This *then* leads to liberation. Thus action performed with
detachment indirectly causes liberation.' Karma yoga is the first step
towards liberation, but is not enough (according to Shankara). First,
perform karma yoga (i.e., dharma with dedication leading to purification
of mind) and then with the rise of jnana, give up all actions and abide in
the Self. Shankara says so many times that 'karmanishhThaa, when done
without any expectation of fruits and with a sense of dedication to God
(in addition to upasana, according to Madhusudhana sarasvati), serves to
purify the mind and makes it fit for jnaananishhThaa.' Emphasis on chitta
shuddhi is also done by Ramana Maharshi. Rama can correct me, if I am
mistaken regarding RM. Shankara does not talk very much about chitta
suddhi, except in BG, because he assumes that many of His disciples who
are sannyas already have it.
Arjuna is in stage 1, he needs purification of mind, so advice is
given based on the disciple competence. You can again read more of this
in the bhashya of Shankara and Madhu, if you want. I think Anand has posted
several times on this issue of chitta suddhi. Anand has quoted Shankara
also, so beware :-).
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