Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 2 15:25:18 CDT 2002

On Wed, 2 Oct 2002, Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> What makes a 'firm ground' in karma kanda ?

It takes no particular philosophical knowledge to eat, sleep, defecate
etc.  The words of the Vedas show us that there is more to life than this.
As the natural tendency of humanity is pravrtti, the bulk of the Vedas is
concerned with this. Unlike the Mimamsakas, Advaitins do not believe that
karma is an end in itself.  Although it is to ultimately to be rejected as
illusionary also, it does have a benefit in that it draws the mind and
body away from lower types of activity and towards more sattvic ones.
Thus the proper practice of pravrtti as per the instructions of the
karmakanda will generate a desire for nivrtti which is explained in the
jnanakanda.  That it is eventually discarded doesn't trivialize its'

> Does it include
> studying 'mImAmsa' granthas or not ?

It is not necessary.  Actions are after all just actions and can be
reproduced without understanding why they need to be performed.  The
problem occurs when for whatever reason you stray off the script.  If you
do not understand the theory, you will be at a loss as to what to do.
Purva Mimamsa is Dharma jignasa just as Vedanta (Uttara Mimamsa) is Brahma
jijnasa.  WAfter hearing the description of Dharma or Brahman, doubts and
questions will arise as to the proper meaning.  The two mimamsas developed
in order to answer those questions.

> Does one have to perform agnihotra
> and/or different periodic 'yagna/yaga' or not ? Is it sufficient to do
> daily sandhya (one time or two times or three times) ?

These are the type of questions Purva Mimamsa covers.  But in my opinion
if you are living your life based on "what do the shastras say I should be
doing?" instead of "what do I feel like doing?", one has a firm base in
karmakanda.  The actual specific karmas to be practiced may differ from
person to person but it is cultivating the attitude which is important for
turning that energy towards jnana. (Btw, at a minimum, a Brahman should do
sandhyavandana three times a day.)

> In an earlier thread Sri Jaladhar has mentioned about 'solid background'
> (or similar such words) in Vedanta, and has included study of
> prasthAnatrayI and other allied books. Surprisingly, he has not mentioned
> studying under the guidance of a 'practicing' srotruia Guru as the basis of
> this 'solid background'.

We have to distinguish between the experience and the
intellectual/conceptual understanding.  For the latter it is possible to
learn it by yourself though obviously it is more practical to learn from
an expert in the fields.  for the experience, ultimately it has to come
from within.  You could have a 1,000,000 books and 1,000,000 teachers of
the calibre of Shankaracharya and it wouldn't do you any good if you were
not mentally and spiritually ready for it.  Here also having an
experienced person who has faced the same problems is helpful but no one
can give you mukti but yourself.

Over the internet, we cannot do much to help the experience part.  But it
is a good medium for discussing the intellectual component.

> Similarly, what is the acceptable source of learning 'karma kanda' ?

Karma depends for its' efficacy for performance with precision.  So one
should learn from the most qualified person possible.  But bear in mind
the karma of a tailor in some regards is different from the karma of a
Brahman and the karma of a Gujarati Brahman is different in some regards
from a Dravid one.  So the definition of 'most qualified' can vary.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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