karma yoga (MadhusUdana's commentary)

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 20 14:32:47 CDT 1999

To put the half verse in context, let me quote the whole verse:
  (GItA 4.36)

  api chedasi pApebhyaH sarvebhyaH pApakR^ittamaH |
  sarvaM GYAnaplavenaiva vR^ijinaM santarishhyasi ||

  MadhusUdana SarasvatI interprets this verse slightly differently, and
  makes a  significant point.

  First of all, he says that the usage of the indeclinables "api" and
 "chet" indicates that a purely hypothetical condition is being admitted
  in the first line of the verse.

  api chedity-asaMbhAvita-abhyupagama-pradarshanArthau nipAtau

  The indeclinables "api" and "chet" are for the sake of showing
  that an impossibility is being admitted (as a hypothetical case).

  yadyapy-ayam-artho na saMbhavatyeva tathApi GYAnaphala-kathanAya-

  Even though this situation is not at all possible, still for the sake
  of stating the result of GYAna, it is admitted and (the following) is

  yadyapi tvaM pApakAribhyaH sarvebhyo .apy-atishayena pApakArI
  pApakR^ittamaH syAs-tAthApi sarvaM vR^ijinaM pApamatidustartvena-
  arNavasadR^ishaM GYAnaplavenaiva nAnyena GYAnameva plavaM potaM
  kR^itvA santarashhyasi samyaganAyAsena punarAvR^ittivarjitattvena
  cha tarishhyasi atikramishhyasi |

  Even if you may be the worst of all sinners, still you will, with
  ease, completely cross the ocean of all sins, which is difficult to
  cross, by making GYAna itself, not anything else, a boat, and never
  to return (to worldly existence).

  And MadhusUdana adds:

  vR^ijinashabdena-atra dharma-adharmarUpaM karma saMsAraphalam-
  abhipretaM mumuxoH pApavatpuNyasyApy-anishhTatvAt.h |

  By the word "vR^ijina" (sin), here is meant karma that is of the
  nature of dharma and adharma and that has saMsAra or wordly life
  as its result, because even puNya (merit) is undesirable for the
  seeker of liberation just as pApa (sin) is.

  Notes: MadhusUdana is careful enough to make a distinction
  between an actual sinner's getting liberation and using a sinner
  as a hypothetical example for the purpose of pointing out the
  power of GYAna. He is not saying that a sinner can suddenly acquire
  GYAna somehow and get liberated. In fact, he is pointing out the
  impossibility of such a thing. Rather, he points out that the
  verse, in showing the efficacy of GYAna, says that even if one be
  the worst possible sinner, he can liberate himself through GYAna.
  The explanation of the word "vR^ijina" is meant to show that one
  cannot get liberated by merely accumulating puNya earned through
  good works. Such puNya can at best lead one to heavenly life and
  the like, but after the puNya has been exhausted, one must return
  to the world of suffering. So puNya is no better than pApa, in this
  sense. The correct approach is to follow dharma in determining what
  kind of karma needs to be done and offer the fruits of karma to God
  or renounce the fruits of karma. In other words, do nishhkAma-karma.

  There is a clear possibility that this verse can be misinterpreted
  by "Internet Svamis" and others like them who may promise instant
  liberation to all, even the worst sinners. And such people may
  think that this is possible - a one-way ticket to bliss. But
  MadhusUdana's commentary puts things in a proper perspective.


On Wed, 19 May 1999 19:35:11 -0400, Sunder Hattangadi
<gourish at INTERNET1.NET>

>CORRECTION: The verse referenced should be 4:36, and NOT 4:33.
>The line is : sarva.n GYaanaplavenaiva vR^ijina.n santarishhyasi .
>(The tr. of part of the bhashya reads: "For one who seeks liberation, even
>dharma proves to be a sin.")
>I apologise for the wrong reference previously given.
>(In case the previous message gets lost,: I would like to have someone post
>the original sanskrit bhashya on this verse, and any other commentaries on
>the bhashya, if available.)
>Thank you in advance.

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