[Advaita-l] Advaita in ordinary activities - an interesting article

Sundar Rajan avsundarrajan at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 19 14:40:58 CDT 2007

  Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote
  This is why the Garuda Purana and allAdvaitic works will tell you that 
  until the time when one is mentally and physically ready for sannyasa, all 
  the nitya and naimittika Karmas _MUST_ be observed.  In fact an Advaitin 
  will be even more diligent in this regard than a dualist because the 
  latter is only following the dictates of the Shastras out of self-interest 
  and ulterior motives whereas the advaitin only does so out of a sense of 
  duty and with a view to eventually transcending it.
  Along these lines there is an excellent article I came acroos in a message from the yahoo 'advaitin' group.
  This article expands on a verse that appeared in the collected works of Sri Ramana. Describes the special relationship between Guru and disciple and the importance of 'playing' the roles, performing the karmas etc.
  Here are couple of extracts:
  " Keep advaita within the Heart. Do not ever carry it into action.Even if you apply it to all the three worlds, O son, it is not to be applied to the Guru."
  Annamalai Swami has given an account of how this particular verse came to be written. It began with the following remarks by Bhagavan: 
       ‘Advaita should not be practised in ordinary activities. It is sufficient if there is no differentiation in the mind. If one keeps cartloads of discriminating thoughts within, one should not pretend that all is one on the outside. 
       ‘Westerners practise mixed marriages and eat equally with everyone. What is the use of doing only this? Only wars and battlefields have resulted. Out of all these activities, who has obtained any happiness? 
       ‘This world is a huge theatre. Each person has to act whatever role is assigned to him. It is the nature of the universe to be differentiated but within each person there should be no differentiation.’ 
       I [Annamalai Swami] was so moved by this speech that I asked Bhagavan to summarise these ideas in a written Tamil verse. Bhagavan agreed, took a Sanskrit verse from Tattvopadesa [by Adi-Sankaracharya, verse 87] which expresses a similar idea, and translated it into a Tamil venba. When he was satisfied with his translation, I also managed to persuade him to write the first fair copy in my diary. This verse was eventually published as verse thirty-nine of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham.
  Maurice Frydman, the compiler of I am That and Maharshi’s Gospel, questioned Bhagavan about the first half of this verse and received the following explanation:  
  Question: Sri Bhagavan has written [Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham, verse 39] that one should not show advaita in one’s activities. Why so? All are one. Why differentiate?
Bhagavan: Would you like to sit on the seat that I am sitting on?
Question: I don’t mind sitting there. But if I came and sat there the sarvadhikari [the ashram manager] and the other people here would hit me and chase me away.
Bhagavan: Yes, nobody would allow you to sit here. If you saw someone molesting a woman, would you let him go, thinking, ‘All is one’? There is a scriptural story about this. Some people once gathered together to test whether it is true, as said in the Bhagavad Gita, that a jnani sees everything as one. They took a brahmin, an untouchable, a cow, an elephant, and a dog to the court of King Janaka, who was a jnani. When all had arrived King Janaka sent the brahmin to the place of brahmins, the cow to its shed, the elephant to the place allotted to elephants, the dog to its kennel and the untouchable person to the place where the other untouchables lived. He then ordered his servants to take care of his guests and feed them all appropriate food. 
       The people asked, ‘Why did you separate them individually? Is not everything one and the same for you?’
     ‘Yes, all are one,’ replied Janaka, ‘but self-satisfaction varies according to the nature of the individual. Will a man eat the straw eaten by the cow? Will the cow enjoy the food that a man eats? One should only give what satisfies each individual person or animal.’ 
       Although the same man may play the role of all the characters in a play, his acts will be determined by the role that he is playing at each moment. In the role of a king he will sit on the throne and rule. If the same person takes on the role of a servant, he will carry the sandals of his master and follow him. His real Self is neither increased nor decreased while he plays these roles. The jnani never forgets that he himself has played all these roles in the past.(5) 
  Sundar Rajan

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list