[Advaita-l] karma kanda

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Thu Jul 13 01:09:19 CDT 2006

"s v a" <a_satish03 at rediffmail.com>
wrote on July 12, 2006:

      I also think, the Madhwa & other who call Shankara , buddha in
disguise, is bcoz, Buddha like Shankara alwayas rejected, Karmakanda &
Upalabdhivad, which Mimansakas & their hidden followers like MAdhwa &
Ramanuja stand out for.

Far from rejecting karma kanda, Sri Sankara stresses the need for the
performance of rituals till one attains total purity of mind and becomes fit
for the dawn of self-knowledge. The following are a few instances from his

*Br.up.4.4.22. BhAshya (S.B)-- The words 'study of the Vedas, sacrifices,
charity and austerity' refer to all obligatory rites (nitya karma). Thus all
the obligatory rites (that is all those other than kAmya karma) serve as
means to liberation through the attainment of Self-knowledge. Hence we see
that the ultimate purpose of the two parts of the Vedas, that dealing with
rites and that dealing with Self-knowledge, is the same, (namely
liberation). *

taitt.up.1.11.S.B—The Vedic rites help in the attainment of Self-knowledge
by eradicating the accumulated sins.

taitt.up.1.11.S.B---- For the attainment of Self-knowledge, the *nitya karma
*becomes the means only by eradicating the obstruction in the form of
accumulated sins.

Br.up.4.5.15.S.B--  We have said that rites are for the unenlightened. As
long as there is ignorance of the Self, there is need for the performance of
rites which are intended to produce, attain, modify or purify. (These are
the four kinds of results produced by action). Rites are the means to
Self-knowledge through the purification of the mind.

taitt.up.1.11.S.B--- The rites laid down have to be performed for the
attainment of Self- knowledge (because they purify the mind and make it fit
for the rise of knowledge).

Sri Sankara further points out that there is no demarcation of rites as
'kAmya' or 'obligatory (nitya) in the Vedas themselves. He says in
Br.up.1.3.1.S.B--- As the rites with material ends (*kAmya karma), *such as
the new and full moon sacrifices, are enjoined on one who desires to attain
heaven, etc, so are the regular and obligatory rites (*nitya *and *naimittika
karma)* on one who has the root of all evils, namely ignorance, and the
consequent defects of attachment and aversion, manifesting themselves as the
quest for what is pleasant and avoidance of the unpleasant. Rites such
as *agnihotra,
chAturmAsya, paSubandha *and *somayAga *are not intrinsically either rites
with material ends (*kAmya) *or obligatory rites (*nitya).*They come under
the former category only when they are performed with desire for results
such as heaven. (The same rites can also be performed without desire for the
result, in which case they become *nishkAma karma *and have the effect of
purifying the mind and making it fit for Self-knowledge). No rites are
enjoined in the scriptures for one who has realized the true nature of the
Self. Self-knowledge arises only on the obliteration of the very cause of
rites. One who has realized that he is Brahman has no obligation to perform
even the obligatory rites.

   Sri Sankara of course stresses that liberation results from knowledge
alone. Karma is the remote means because it is necessary for purification of
the mind.


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