[Advaita-l] advaita vEdAnta Unit (2)
puttakrishna at verizon.net
Wed Dec 27 09:06:22 CST 2006
We concluded Unit -1 with Krishna's response to Arjuna that kAma (desire)
and krOdha(anger) are the
root causes of ignorance and hence man's inability to experience the
divinity with in him. We will review the mechanics of this in this unit.
>From our birth to death man (or woman), is engaged in various activities.
All the activities have the effect
of producing the fruits of action.
" anishTam ishTam mishram cha tri-vidham karmaNah phalam "
bhavati atyAginAm prEtya na tu sanyAsinAm kvachit "- The three-fold fruits
of action , desirable (life of
dEvatAs), undesirable ( life of animals ) and mixed (human lives) accrue to
the non-renouncer (of fruits of actions),after death; but never to the
The individual has to experience these fruits of action (karmaphala) in the
vehicle of dEvas, humans or animals. So this makes it necessary to be born
again to experience the fruits of action, be it desirable
or non-desirable. This is the law of karma. The law of karma is illustrated
in a figure, archived at
The law of karma and reincarnation to experience the karmaphala are the
corner stones of the
philosophies of sanAtana dharma. We need to understand the three categories
of karma (phala)
in order to fully understand the law of karma.
1. sanchita karma (karma in storage)
2. prArabdha karma (karma that has begun to bear fruit)
3. AgAmi karma (karma resulting from future activities).
A man's current life comes his way to experience a fraction of the fruits of
his activities in past lives,
stored as sanchita karma. The fraction is called prArabdha karma or karma
that has begun to bear
fruit. The experiences of this life are the fruits of that fraction of past
activities. As he go through this
life, he does some good acts and some not so good acts and so on. These
acts, if they are desire
oriented will result in additional fruits to be experienced in future lives.
The karma, associated with
the activities of this life is the AgAmi karma, that gets added into and
stored in the sanchita karma, after death. Desire is the motive for a man's
activities, which is captured very succinctly in the following two
verses of gIta;
" dhyAyatO vishayAn pumsah sanghah tEshu upajAyatE
sanghAt sanjAyatE kAmah kAmAt krOdhah abhijAyatE"
" krOdhAt bhavati sam-mOhah sam-mOhat smriti vibramah
smriti brimshAt buddhi nAshah buddhi nAshAt praNashayti " - (2-62 and 63).
As man dwells on sense objects, he develops an attachment to them; the
attachment turns in to desire
to possess them (a fulfilled desire will lead to indulge in it or creates
an unfulfilled desire creates anger in him; anger leads to delusion which in
turn causes loss of memory;
loss of memory results in destruction of discrimination; Once he looses
discrimination, he perishes.
(there is an anti-dote to this, which we will review a little later). -
These two verses capture the basic
message of the law of karma; Being caught in the web of births and deaths is
what Krishna describes as "he perishes".
It is generally the story of most humans that the pot of sanchita karma
keeps growing with each life. As
more karma is added to the pot, it necessitates additional births to
experience the fruits of action. This
is because of man's ignorance that happiness is derived by sense objects,
which he goes after every waking
moment of his life. The loss of discrimination is what leads man to wrongly
identify happiness as coming
from sense objects. D.V. Gundappa says in Kagga, that what man calls as
happiness is a short interval
between two long intervals of sorrow or happiness is absence of sorrow.
We said earlier that the prArabdha karma is only a small fraction of the
sanchita karma. This fraction
is generally understood to be proportional to the forbearing ability of the
individual jIva to withstand
misery and sorrow. If one's entire sanchita karma were to be translated to
prArabdha for one life, the
man will collapse under the weight of the misery (suicide!), that he will
not fulfill the obligations of the prArabdha, which necessitates another
life anyway. So God in His infinite mercy, will spare the human from such
extreme encounters. So the jIva moves from life to life to experience his
own desires, adding to the store of karma with each appearance,
necessitating more births and so on.
What is the strategy for relief from the cycle of births and deaths? What is
the exit strategy?
Theoretically speaking, the answer seems to be simple enough - (1) do not
add more AgAmi karma
to the karma in storage and /or neutralize the store of karma (sanchita)
once and for all.
[ Here, an analogy can be made to an imaginary ring highway around a
metropolitan area; this highway
has no marked exits. A vehicle, with a perpetual source of energy, keeps
going round and round with
out any definite purpose. Such a vehicle, if it needs to get out, has to
make a determined plan for and
execute an exit strategy].
The Rishis of sanAtana dharma have determined such an exit strategy for a
man to escape from the
cycle of the law of karma. This strategy is a four step preparatory process
called "sAdhana chatushTaya"
- a four step spiritual discipline. The four steps are
1. vivEka (discrimination of Real from unreal).
2. vairAgya (detachment or dispassion from sense objects)
3. shamAdi shat sampatti ( a collective group of six behavior traits)
4. mumukshtva ( intense desire to achieve permanent bliss).
This preparatory process is the subject matter for Unit - 3.
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