kAmya karmas (was Re: [Advaita-l] Animal sacrifice)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 10 23:02:39 CST 2006

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com> wrote:

> plava hi ete priixyeti tathaa tadya iha, iti ca |
> nindaashrute.h na kaamyaanaa.m kaaryataa adhyavasiiyate || 327
> >From the texts which condemn (optional  rites), such as "These are
> transient", "Thus he examined", "they, like those in this world", it
> is detemined that optional (kaamya) rites should not be performed.
> Sureshvara answers:
> vidhi-nindaa-samaavesha.h na evam api upapadyate |
> phala-abhisandhi-maatre tu nindaayam eva yujyate || 328
> Coexistence of injunction (vidhi) and condemnation (nindaa) can never
> happen. The condemning texts make sense only when they refer to the
> (desire for the ) fruit
> It actually is good to read the previous 10 and next 10 passages to
> get a better idea of the context. But I don't have the time right now.
> 1. Re-reading my mail, after reading Jaldhars good comments, I
> realized that I should not have said "Optional rites should not be
> given up". I should have instead said "Optional rites need not be
> given up". ***But certainly the theory that one should give up
> optional rites does not hold water***.

Thanks for the eye-opener about kAmya karmas. It looks like two kinds of people
perform kAmya karmas:

1) One who has desire for svarga performs kAmya karmas in order to attain

2) One who has no desire for svarga performs the same "kAmya karmas" for
purifying the intellect. In this context, the word "kAmya" is there just
because this karma is "usually" performed by one with desire.

> 2. As per aapastamba, 40 samskaaras have to be performed during the
> life time. This includes doing soma-yaaga at least once, which
> involves sacrifice of animals. So, it's not necessary that animal
> sacrifice is only in "kaamya" rites. It is possible that other R^ishis
> may have different samskaaras which do not involve sacrifice of
> animals. But I seriously doubt this.

So what if one has not performed a few saMskaaras? According to Gautama
8.22-25, there is no *necessity* for doing all the saMskaaras for one who seeks
mukti. One can perform a few saMskaaras, and then strive to develop the
requisite AtmaguNAH. There is no point claiming that it is "difficult" to
develop AtmaguNAH without saMskaaras - if there's a serious will to develop
them, the divine's ever-flowing grace will show the way. Also, if it were
really the case that there was an inherent difficulty in developing the
AtmaguNAH without the saMskaaras, I don't believe that Gautama would've
specifically mentioned that all the saMskaaras do not have to necessarily be
performed to develop the AtmaguNAH.

My point is - perhaps doing a kAmya karma will help purify the intellect. But
if the same can be obtained by doing only nitya karmas, and then optionally
going on pilgrimages, seeking the blessings of saints, etc. why concentrate on
a specific kAmya karma?

> 3. "Optional rites" are more or less a necessity for most of us. A
> Ganapati homam,  ekaadasha rudram, or chaNDii homam are all optional.
> But can we say that they do not help most of us? We can certainly do a
> gaNapati homam without any desires, just with the thought of pleasing
> gaNesha. If anyone is advanced enough to meditate without any problem
> oGanesha, they of course have no need for these "optional" rites. But
> for most of us, a karma greatly helps fix the thought on
> gaNesha.That's the fact of life.

A GaNapati homam or VishhNu sahasranaama homam is indeed an excellent way of
worshipping GaNesha or VishhNu, and is highly recommended by many teachers.

But is it not the case that such homams have become popular nowadays because
most people have virtually abandoned the performance of agnihotra as a nitya
karma? Why not first attempt to do all of one's nitya karmas instead of
concentrating on a kAmya karma?

> 4. Most optional rites specify the results done with desire and
> results done without desire. By "without desire", I mean the lack of
> desire for those results. If there weren't basic desire, we would be
> j~naanis! For example, the aruNaketuka yaj~nam can bring prosperity,
> long life, etc. But, without those desires, one attains saayujya with
> suurya bhagavaan.
> Sri Sanjay wrote:
> "I remember visiting vindhyavAsini temple in Mirzapur in my childhood
> days. That time animal sacrifice was done in the open in temple
> premises. (I think it is now banned by government). Our priest - a
> very learned vedic scholar and through and through no-garlic-onion
> vegetarian would dip his little finger in the blood and put it at the
> tip of his tongue as devI's prasAda. It would seem that people have"
> My comments: Obviously he's a wise man. Unfortunately our government
> officials do not think about the thousands of animals slaughtered
> during bakrid, but are always out to "help" Hindus become "civilized".

It is definitely inane to permit slaughter of animals at Christian and Muslim
religious occasions or for personal gratification of taste, but disallow it at
a Hindu sacrifice.

But I don't see how animal sacrifice of all kinds is necessarily "wise". Here
is an instance of Ramana Maharshi assenting that animal sacrifices at a Kali
temple can be stopped:

Extract from "Letters from and Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam" by Suri
Nagamma, pp.184-187:

One afternoon while I was thus wandering about with growing anxiety about
Bhagavan's health, I noticed some commotion in the temple of Goddess Kali which
is situated on the roadside between my house and the Ashram. I thought that
some special puja was being performed; when however I heard the bleatings of a
goat, I felt it must be the killing of the goat by way of sacrifice...while
returning home noticed that the idol of Goddess Kali was dripping with blood
and presenting a rather ghastly sight...

That afternoon when there was no one else with Bhagavan, I went to him,
prostrated and stood up before him. He looked at me enquiringly. Nervously I
said, "Goats are being sacrificed at the local Kali temple..." With a tender
look towards me Bhagavan said, "Yes, the bleatings are heard here also, but
nobody takes any action in the matter. What to do?" ... I also told him that
there was a legislation prohibiting animal sacrifices in residential areas and
that our area had recently developed and so some action might be taken...After
hearing me patiently, Bhagavan said, "To ask the devotees is no good. Let us
see if the worshippers heed to our protests. There is no need to be afraid of
speaking to them about this." When Bhagavan spoke thus, I felt I had been given
the strength of an elephant...

...we sent for the temple priests and spoke to them in a very convincing manner
that it might have been in order to perform animal sacrifices when this
locality was deserted with no human habitation around but now that the place
was full of people who had constructed houses and had started living in them
these sacrifices must stop...I told them that the District Collector and other
government officials were due to visit the Ashram shortly and if they persisted
in their activities, I would bring the matter to their notice, as there was
legislation against such sacrifices in residential areas. Out of fear of the
law and the government officers or of Bhagavan, they stopped the sacrifices
forthwith...Bhagavan was pleased when I told him all that had happened. With a
look of approval he said, "That is good. This has been happening for a long
time. No one has taken any interest in the matter. It was getting worse from
day to day. What to do? It has stopped at last."


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