[Advaita-l] Dharma

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Dec 6 15:05:04 CST 2004

On Mon, 6 Dec 2004, Kiran B.R. wrote:

> What appears as random quotes to you is a logical set of quotes to me

The beauty of logic is it doesn't depend on appearences.

> An understanding which sets out to prove that "there is no crisis",
> and "nothing need be done" in the garb of a quest for "right
> understanding" is the intellectual diarrhoea of a coward.

That's a straw man you are raising.  "There is no crisis" doesn't imply
"nothing needs to be done" only that what needs to be done (and eventually
not done) should be determined by intelligence not blind panic.

> > > anAshritaH karmaphalaM kAryaM karma karOti yaH |
> > > sa saMnyAsI cha yOgI cha na niragnirna chAkriyaH ||
> > It is not a definition of sannyasi or yogi but an explanation of
> > the dividing line between the conventional man and such people.  The
> > dividing line between a [karma]yogi and a sannyasi is explained elsewhere.
> In the shloka, "such people" (=sannyasi/yogi) are described as they
> who perform works, and not those who do not.
"such people" act _in_comparison_ to those who are niragni etc.  The
hierarchy is this:

Tamasic people only act out of laziness.  They will only make effort to
avoid effort.

Rajasic people act for the sake of action.  They expect results for their

Sattvic people act out of duty.  They are yogis.  Then as the final act
they renounce ation.  They are sannyasis.

Again, the import of this shloka is that just giving up is not sannyasa.
What is left out here but is the central theme of Advaita Vedanta is that
giving up with understanding is sannyasa and it is the only path to

> > > (3) > > > yadyadAcharati shrEShTastattadEvEtarO janaH |
> > > sa yatpramANaM kurutE lOkastadanuvartatE ||
> > > (2)
> > > na mE pArthAsti kartavyaM triShu lOkEShu kiMchana |
> > > nAnavAptamavAptavyaM varta Eva cha karmaNi ||
> > ...Again there is nothing relevant to your thesis here.  Bhagavan is
> > demonstrating His place as the upholder of Pravrtti Dharma even though
> > Nivrtti Dharma is superior.
> The relevance is this:
> Although there is no karma for kRuShNa in any of the three worlds, he
> works. Repeat - he works.

Repeat he _appears_ to work.  As you yourself point out later.  This is a
subtle but important difference because it establishes the relative values
of work and non-work.

 Being the shrEShTha, he doesn't want to put
> people on the wrong path by not working. (Apparently, many did go on
> the wrong path!)
> Also, why would he uphold that which is not superior?

Out of compassion for those who are inferior?

> As the upholder
> of the inferior, he would cease to be worthy of being known as an
> avatAra.

Do you have children?  If you tell a child not to touch scissors or knives
are you an upholder of the inferior because one day they will have to use
knives and scissors?  The good teacher adjusts his lesson to fit the
student.  If you read the Mahabharata you'll notice that Arjuna is not the
brightest guy around.  Yet eventually he along with his brothers does take
sannyasa.  So evidently the lesson did sink in!

> > na mAM karmANi liMpaMti na mE karmaphalE spRuhA |
> > iti mAM yO&bhijAnAti karmabhirna sa badhyatE ||
> Your verbose response to this misses the bus. What you fail to see is
> - that kRuShNa, the shrEShTha, works.

He is giving an example to Arjuna.  Arjuna is the one who is being urged
to work.

I have a question: if Krishna is so fond of work, why in the middle of
this tumultuous battle is he sitting in a chariot minding horses?  Surely
a few well-placed thunderbolts could have reduced the Mahabharata from
100,000 shlokas to 1,000.

> > The karmayogi does not stop to pontificate whether his
> > actions are really non-actions or not.  He should just get on with doing
> > his job.
> That is the limited karmayogi you've built up in your mind with the
> aim of worshipping inaction and buying an intellectual holiday from
> work (just as you describe the human body as a mass of urine and
> excreta with the aim of deviating people from any work for keeping the
> body fit, healthy and glowing).

????? so the whole point of this diatribe on advaita-l is to encourage

> The true karmayogi is described thus:

5.8-10 The first two shlokas don't describe a karmayogi, they describe a
> naiva kiMchitkarOmIti yuktO manyEta tatvavit |
> pashyan shRuNvan spRushan jighran ashnan gacChan svapan shvasan ||
> pralapan visRujan gRuhNannunmishannimishannapi |
> iMdriyANIMdriyArthEShu vartaMta iti dhArayan ||
> brahmaNyAdAya karmANi saMgaM tyaktvA karOti yaH |
> lipyatE na sa pApEna padmapatramivAMbhasA || (B.G. Ch.5.)
> The knower of truth

Knower of truth is a poor translation for tattvavid.  Tattvas are the
constituent building blocks, "elements" if you will, of the universe.  Try
"knower of reality" instead.  Only some of the karmayogis are tattvavids.


manyeta is also mistranslated.  It is the verb man "to think" in the case
called ling (sorry I can't remember what the English grammatical
equivalent is.  Imperative maybe?)  So "should think"

> "I do nothing at all", and even
> while seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, eating, going, sleeping,
> breathing, talking, letting go, holding, opening and closing the eyes,

So this is the program that the tattvavid has to practice.  Learning to
restrain the senses in all their multiplicity and negate them.  When this
is done, one is ready for sannyasa.

> sees that the senses engage in sense objects. Performing action
> without attachment and offering them to brahman, he is untouched by
> sin like a lotus leaf untouched by water.

The chief stumbling block the future sannyasi is the idea that "If I give
up action I will commit a sin."  In this shloka Bhagavan assures us that
it is is only the attachment to results that leads to sin.  We can deduce
the following sequence of growth in the seeker.

karmi -> karmayogi -> tattvavid -> sannyasi

> > Action for the sake of action will not improve things in the slightest.
> I'm not advocating for this. I'm advocating for action for the sake of
> improvement without the guilty feeling of doing something stupid
> vis-a-vis mOkSha, thinking "mOksha comes through sitting in the cave
> and giving up all work".

I don't know of one reader of this list who isn't out to improve
themselves so if you are feeling guilty about such things perhaps you
should discuss it on some psychology-related forum not advaita-l?

> yaM saMnyAsamiti prAhuryOgaM taM viddhi pAMDava |
> na hyasanyasta saMkalpO yOgI bhavati kaSchana || (B.G. 6.2)
> That which they call saMnyAsa, know that to be [karma]yOga. No one
> becomes a [karma]yOgI without renouncing saMkalpa.

This shloka merely says that renunciation of action is a superset of
renunciation of fruits of action.  In other words one cannot take up
sannyasa in anticipation of some reward.  In the first adhyaya Arjuna asks
Krishna Bhagavan if he shouldn't just concede the kingdom to Duryodhana
rather than fight him?  That type of "renunciation" would be cowardice not
true sannyasa.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a boy! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/nilagriva/

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