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

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 11 15:10:37 CST 2006

There seems to be some confusion regarding the intent of my mail, as
evidenced by the following comments:

Ravi wrote:

<<<<<"We discussed this topic sometime in the past. Please see the thread
"Some Vedic sacrifices of this century" and here is an excellent post
by Anand from that thread.


Whether correct or not, prohibition by Government of India alone is a
sufficient reason to cite inability to do the yaj~na-s  that involve
animal sacrifice.">>>>>>

My mail was not to discuss the validity or otherwise of animal
sacrifices. I now regret I got into that, people (including me) just
keep saying whatever they feel is correct. Animal sacrifices, women
reciting veda, etc come up in periodic intervals with no one changing
their positions. Pointless topics on the whole, and I usually avoid

I was only replying to Sri Sanjays observation that kaamya karmas
*intrinsically create bondage*. The point is they do NOT. The
intention of the kartaa is what matters. This is a big difference from
the bhedaabheda schools, and even some advaitins like maNDana mishra.
They think that nitya and naimittika karmas should be done by
everyone, even j~naanis, and kaamya karmas should be given up. This
helps to get moxa after death and also prevents avidyaa from coming
back. There are two faults Shankara finds with this:

1. kaamya karmas are as effective in purifying the mind as other
karmas and need not  (should not?) be avoided.
2. karmas do not directly give moxa, j~naana does. karma and
meditation either facilitate j~naana or give krama mukti via saayujya
with the devataa (suurya, praaNa, etc). Correct j~naana once obtained
will not go away.

The first point is subtle (at least for me), and as I said I realized
that a few years back when I read some talks with Mahasannidhaanam.
After that, I went through bhAShyas to find support for that. I don't
think this topic has ever been discussed before. That's exactly the
reason I changed the subject line from animal sacrifices to kaamya
karma. If it has been discussed before and it was obvious to most
here, I apologize for the waste of time.

This ends the objective part of this discussion. Some subjective views
(of mine) are below.

On 1/10/06, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> > 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.

Thanks for the information, I'll try to do some more reaserch on this.
It's difficult to gauge the greatness of sarvaj~nas like aapastamba
and gautama, much less compare their views. But perhaps gautama is
just saying that developing traits such as purity, faith and devotion
are somewhat independent of samskaaras and should be developed even if
one does perform all of them, and that the traits have independent
validity in helping get moxa. But performing all of them and
developing good qualities at the same time should definitely be
better? It's also difficult to make conclusions on this without
examining the verses and what the commentarial tradition has to say
about this.

> 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?

It's a good point. I hope at some point to start doing the agnihotram
etc. Let's see how that goes. But I think lots of times these optional
rites are done with some result in mind, example, aayuShya homam
during birthdays, etc.

> 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:

I was going to discuss this, but perhaps I'll send you a private email
later. This topic (animal sacrifice) is somewhat useless in public
discussions. Anyway, it's not like I am going to perform any animal
sacrifices. It remains to be seen whether I can even get going on my
agnihotram project and as the next step the paaka yaj~nas. I don't
expect to conduct soma yaagams or much less the vaajapeya. So let's
just leave it at that.


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