[Advaita-l] Dharma

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 3 11:45:18 CST 2004

--- "Kiran B.R." <kiran.br at gmail.com> wrote:


> There is no one who can remain without doing karma even for a moment,
> so you can't postulate anything for "those engaged in karma" and not
> address everybody:
> na hi kaSchit kShaNamapi jAtu tiShThatyakarmakRut |
> kAryatE hyavashaH karma sarvaH prakRutijairguNaiH || (BG. Ch. 3)

Shankara's Commentary on the above BG verse 3.5 (following Warrier):

"...This applies to the ignorant only, for in 14.23, a reference is
made to 'one who is not pushed about the constituents'."

udaasiinavadaasiino guNairyo na vichaalyate .
guNaa vartanta ityevaM yo.avatishhThati neN^gate .. 14.23 ..
"Seated as if indifferent, he is not disturbed by the constituents: he
stirs not but remains steadfast, holding that constituents alone

Shankara anticipates your objection and gives the reference himself in
his BhAshhya! BG 3.5 talks about the influence of the guNas, which the
GYAnI has transcended as per 14.23. Therefore, the word "sarvaH" in 3.5
cannot include the GYAnI.

Moral to be gained from the above exercise: study Shankara's GItA
BhAshhya diligently before raising objections that have been answered
by advaitins. This way, objections will be dissolved automatically.

> Note that even the jnAnI is found engaged in karma:

"Found" - by whom? By himself?! No, by other ignorant folks only:-

> sadRushaM chEShTatE svasyAH prakRutErj~JAnavAnapi |
> prakRutiM yAMti bhUtAni nigrahaH kiM kariShyati || (BG. Ch. 3)

yathaidhaMsi samiddhogniH bhasmasaatkurute arjuna . 
GYAnAgniH sarvakarmANi bhasmasAtkurute tathA .. 4.37 ..
"Just as fire reduces all fuel to ashes, Arjuna, so does the fire of
GYAna reduce all Karma to ashes."

Obviously, there can be no Karma after GYAna has dawned. Therefore, the
interpretation of BG 3.33 has to be in line with 4.37 and also 3.17
which says that a GYAnI can have no obligations.

Interpreted in this sense, BG 3.33 is talking about the residual karma
of a GYAnI *that other ignorant people see* as having fructified. As an
example: Ramana Maharshi, a GYAnI, has said that the reason for his
appearing to have such-and-such-body was past karma that had fructified
now, but that does not mean that the he sees himself as bound by it.

Check out http://www.beasyouare.info/beasyouare.html :

Q: I see you doing things. How can you say that you never perform 
A: The radio sings and speaks, but if you open it you will find no 
one inside. Similarly, my existence is like the space; thou this body 
speaks like the radio, there is no one inside as a doer. 
Q: I find this hard to understand. Could you please elaborate on 
A: Various illustrations are given in books to enable us to 
understand how the jnani can live and act without the mind, although 
living and acting require the use of the mind. The potter's wheel goes 
on turning round even after the potter has ceased to turn it because 
the pot is finished. In the same way, the electric fan goes on 
revolving for some minutes after we switch off the current. The 
prarabdha [predestined karma] which created the body will make it 
go through whatever activities it was meant for. But the jnani goes 
through all these activities without the notion that he is the doer of 
them. It is hard to understand how this is possible. The illustration 
generally given is that the jnani performs actions in some such way 
as a child that is roused from sleep to eat eats but does not remember 
next morning that it ate. It has to be remembered that all these 
explanations are not for the jnani. He knows and has no doubts. He 
knows that he is not the body and he knows that he is not doing 
anything even though his body may be engaged in some activity. 
These explanations are for the onlookers who think of the jnani as 
one with a body and cannot help identifying him with his body. 

I was chatting with Vidyasankar of this list (who has been posting
Shankara's commentary on the GItA to this list, btw) and he mentioned
that the GItA has verses that are so seemingly contradictory that it is
hard to believe that they are from the same text. So without consulting
a good commentary, one is lost. The example of 3.5 and 14.23 is very
apt in this regard.


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