some dharmic questions

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Apr 21 01:29:43 CDT 2003

As I explained in my previous post, Advaita Vedanta considers karma and
jnana to be totally seperate.  However there are several places in the
Gita especially that suggest otherwise.  Shankaracharya has come in for a
lot of criticism from authors ancient and modern for what they feel is a
forced interpretation.  It may be instructive for readers to know how he
has dealt with such texts.

On Sun, 20 Apr 2003, Kiran B R wrote:

> shrI bhagavaanuvaacha -
> anaashritah karmaphalam kaaryam karma karOti yah |
> sa sanyaasI cha yogI cha na niragnirna chaakriyah ||

This is Gita 6.1.

The one who performs the appointed actions without expectation for their
results, he is a Sannyasi and a Yogi not the one without fire or the

Sanjay has given the text of Shankaracharyas' comments on this shloka so I
won't repeat them.

There are four kinds of people mentioned here.

1 (implied) one who acts with the expectation of results.
2. One who acts without expectation of results.
3. The one without fire.
4. the non-performer

1. is obviously not a sannyasi so he will not be spoken of further.

The establishment of a sacred fire (agni sthapana) is required for the
performance of Vedic rituals which all other actions are based on so fire
is used as a metaphor for the full paraphernalia of karma i.e.
knowledge, materials etc.  3. is the person who has renounced rituals.  4.
is the person who doesn't do them because he is ignorant, lazy, a heretic

3. is not a sannyasi because he has a very superficial view of what karma
is.  It is not just rituals but _all_ purposeful actions.  Even things
like meditation are karma because they are done with the notion of

4.  Is really like 1.  Except 1 atleast has optimistic expectations.  4 is
negative.  He doesn't act because he feels it will be too hard or boring

Only 2 can claim to be a renouncer because in his very core he is
indifferent to the consequences of actions and does what is right come
what may.

All physical sannyasis may not be mental sannyasis but all mental
sannyasis are b definition also physical sannyasis.  How could they be

> ...
> sarvadharmaan parityajya maamEkam sharaNam vraja |
> aham tvaa sarvapaapEbhyO mOkshayiShyaami maa Shuchah ||

This is Gita 18.66.  It is considered the charamashloka or the definitive
summation of the teaching of the Gita.

Dedicating all actions to me, take refuge in me alone.  Don't worry, I
will free you from all sins.

Sarvadharma = all Dharmas.  Dharma is of the nature of action.  Those who
act without regard to dharma were left behind long ago, only those who
have reached the pinnacle of yoga, and do only what dharma commands are
addressed here.  They should dedicate their dharmas to Bhagavan.  The word
tyaga used here is often translated as renunciation but I have chosen to
render it as dedication.  The word tyaga was not used idly by Krishna
Bhagawan.  It is a technical term of the karmakanda.  In performing a
yajna there are four steps.  The purohit chants the mantra.  Then (lets
say it is a mantra for Agni) he says agnaye svaha.  Then the yajamana and
his wife make the offering and say idam agnaye na mama "This is for Agni
not me."  This last step is called tyaga.  This is why yajna is translated
as sacrifice.  Because the sacrificers give up something of their own as a
gift to the Gods.  Similiarly the supreme yogis dedicate every moment of
their lives to God taking refuge in Him alone.  Being engrossed in the
Lord who truly is their own Self, they do not need to act.  They can give
up acts without fear of commiting a sin.  It is interesting to note that
moksha which in the religious sense means liberation also means release
from a debt.

Advaita Vedanta is not a flight into irresponsibility.  The decision to
abandon ones duty cannot be taken lightly and in no case is it ok to be
ignorant of what your duty entails.

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

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