Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Wed Apr 22 10:50:07 CDT 1998


I welcome Shri Giri back on to the list and I look forward to many
balanced and sage comments from him on matters advaitic.

Shri Giri described in an earlier post the type of life available for
a vedanta student in Bangalore [morning TV program on advaita, choice
of evening discourses on bhagavad-gita, naishhkarmya siddhi etc]. That
is quite fascinating and certainly is the proper environment for getting
rid of unnecessary burdens (upAdhis) we put on ourselves. It is surprising
a few months ago, another friend of mine who has moved back to India has
written to me how the quality of life has deteriorated with too much
commercialization with even film music gyration commercials during the
bhagavad-gita-tv-programs etc. It goes on to show that one can see what
one wants to see anywhere. The requirement seems to be the desire to see
what one wants to see and the purity of heart to do that. This applies
not only in India but anywhere in the world. Anyway, welcome back,
Shri Giri.

On Mon, 20 Apr 1998, Dr. M. Giridhar wrote:

>         Other than a few exceptions, Shankara has repeatedly emphasized
> that physical sannyas is required for "attainment" of jnana. Why ?  Karma
> and jnana can not be combined. But if you are a householder, you are
> _required_ to perform all the three kinds of karma. Now, if you do not
> perform karma, you are not upholding dharma, and you are in trouble.  You
> will neither have jnana or punya. The solution is, you are required to
> perform all the karmas in a spirit of dedication to the Lord i.e.
> nishhkaamya karma, and get chitta shuddhi. Shankara makes it very clear in
> BG bhashya that 'na karmana, na dhana, na putra...' 'Liberation can not be
> obtained due to karma, wealth, sons ..., it is only jnana that confers
> liberation.'
>         So, performance of nishhkaamya karma leads to chitta shuddhi,
> which eventually leads to jnana, but karma as such is incompatible with
> jnana.
> **

I think Shri Shankara's statements on karma versus jnAna (upadesa sahsri,
metrical 1.6,7; Atmabodh 3; and Bhagavad-gita bhAshhya "na karmaNa, na
dhana ...) are quite clear that karma is incompatible with jnAna. My
understanding of what is meant by karma is the following: We can describe
or define karma as (1) action we do to achieve something, or as (2) the
effect of the action which is inherent and is attached to the jeeva as
vAsana. Shri Vivek Ganesan's original question on karma is w.r.t. (2)
above, as I understand it. Karma is certainly incompatible with jnAna
because karma (2) above has no meaning in jnAna.

I interpret that Shri Shankara is referring to karma of (1) above in the
upadesa sahasri, Atma bodh and bhagavad-gita bhAshhya statements. I think
what He is saying is: if one desires to attain moksha and if one does
karma (of (1) above) to *achieve* that, the jeeva cannot attain it, except
through jnAna. The karma which He is referring to is the action performed
by the jeeva, be they regular householder duties like maintainenace of
fire, pUjA, meditation, or the regular sanyAsic duties. Shri Shankara also
says this in His debates with MaNDana Mishra (e.g. meditation, a karma,
a human action with an objective, would not lead to moksha). I would
interpret Shri Shankara's karma versus jnAna statements in that way.
Of course, clarifications by learned members of the list are most

> AUM shaantiH

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

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