Practical Vedanta

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 15 21:32:51 CDT 1999

Let's first define karma yoga and jnAna yoga.

Karma is action.

Excluding deep sleep, we're always conscious of something - whether one's
working on something, thinking about something etc Even when meditating,
one's generally meditating on something - God, a singular object, breath
etc. Even with Atma VichAra, one's searching inside oneself for the Self.

As long as there's the duality of subject and object, there's always karma.

Consciousness necessarily implies the above condition. One's always
conscious of something. But is the consciousness conscious of itself?

When the consciousness becomes conscious of itself - not only aware of
itself, but totally comprehends itself, then it is jnAna.

The term jnAna is pretty confusing - the path towards wisdom is called jnAna
and so is wisdom itself.

So here we can understand it better if we define the effort as jnAna yoga
and the end - the wisdom - the Self, which is knowledge itself - pure
consciousness, devoid of the duality of subject and object - as jnAna.

So as long as one's not a jnAni - as long as there's duality of subject and
object - it's only karma yoga. When one realizes himself, jnAna, then the
duality is dissolved - and thus there's no karma. Strictly speaking, JnAna
yoga is only karma yoga directed towards attaining jnAna.

Our AchArya, doesn't say that jnAna yoga is not possible for a corrupt mind.
But warns that it should not be undertaken by the corrupt mind. In
VivekachUdAmani, he says : "One who has not given up the gratification of
his body and senses and still desires to see the Atman, will be destroyed
like somebody who desiring to cross the river mistakenly grasps a crocodile
instead of a tree branch."

A samnyAsin, unless he's realized, is no different from the householder who
too practices Atma vichAra. It's just that he's totally dedicated towards
this purpose, while the householder still has to attend to other secular

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