[Advaita-l] Meditation Vs nitya karma

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Oct 20 10:52:18 CDT 2008

On Thu, 16 Oct 2008, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> PraNAms to all.
> The topic of the discussion has shifted to taking bhoutika sanyaasa to 
> renoucne nitya karmaas.
> My statement was Shankara does not subscribe to pratyavaya paapam for 
> not performing so called obligatory duties - in his discussion of 
> jnanaakarma saucchya vaada. It is not for those who have renouced 
> actions physically only. I suggest that one should study his bhaashyam 
> carefully.

This is always excellent advice.  Here is the exact quote from the 
introduction to the third adhyaya.

nityAni pratyavAyaparihArArtham anuShTeyAni chet |

"Can it be said[1] that obligatory actions[2] have to be continued to 
prevent the sin of their non-performance[3]?"

[1] By the pUrvapakshin.  It is important to note that it is not just 
pUrva mImAMsakas who hold this view.  Some sections of the vedAntins while 
holding the supremacy of GYAna nevertheless believe that karma cannot be 
given up altogether even by a GYAni because of the residual sin that 
could arise for .

[2] nitya and naimittika karmas as opposed to kAmya karmas which are 
performed to obtain some desire.  All parties in this discussion agree 
kAmya karma must be renounced.

[3] The technical term for the sin arising from non-performance of an 
obligatory action is pratyavAya pApa.

na asaMnyAsiviShayatvAta pratyavAyaprapteH na hi 
agnikAryadyakaraNAt saMnyAsinaH pratyavAya kalpayituM shakyo yathA 
brahmachAriNAm asaMnyAsinAm api karmiNAm |

"No because only non-sannyAsis get pratyAvaya not sannyAsis.[1] It cannot 
be imagined[2] that the sannyasis' non-performance of fire-worship[3] will 
cause pratyAya in the same manner as the brahmachari who is not a sannyasi 

[1] Is it crystal clear now?  According to shankarAchArya sannyAsis are 
not affected by pratyavAya.  Terms like jnAnayogi bhautika mAnasika etc. 
are not mentioned.

[2] i.e. it must be acknowledged by the pUrvapakshi.

[3] agnikArya

[4] A brahmachari (one who is in the first ashram) must offer samidha in 
the fire every day.  It is a nityakarma for him.  When he gets married and 
becomes a grhastha (the second ashram) he does not keep doing this karma. 
He has "renounced" it.  But as the pUrvapakshi will agree, he will not 
suffer from pratyavAya because he has a different set of circumstances. 
Another example: In navaratri we recite chandipath but not on shivaratri. 
Does this mean chandipath has become invalid in the interim?  No only that 
what was applicable at one time is not necessarily applicable at another.

Now a sannyAsi also "renounces" agnikArya but the mere non-performance of 
agnikarya is not dispositive as to whether he will suffer from pratyvAya. 
We have to look at the circumstances too.  Shankaracharya goes on to show 
that there are no circumstances in which a sannyasi has to perform action 
but that is a different topic for discussion.

> Karma is important for chitta suddhi. Jnaana yoga is not for bhoutika 
> sanyaasins only.

Incidentally where are you getting these terms bhoutika and mAnasika 
sannyAsa from?  They do not occur in the bhAShya as far as I can see. 
According to shankarAcharya, either one is a sannyAsi or is not.  The 
correct term for one who is a bhoutika sannyasi but not mAnasika or 
vice-versa is hypocrite.

> My taking sanyaasa is beyond the scope of this topic and I leave it HIM 
> to decide since I find that it is also in HIS hands. One can have of 
> course mental sanyaasa which is more important.

People ask because Advaita Vedanta is not just supposed to be nice idea 
but a practical method for moksha.  Many people avidly read the things you 
write here so they wonder if you actually practice what you preach. 
Probably all the people who post regularly get this, I know I do.

My answer is yes there are bonds of attachment which I feel I cannot break 
at this time and my conscience will not let me hide behind euphemisms like 
mental sanyAsa.  So my only alternative is to adopt the shastrokta 
discipline which will enable me move forward as far as possible in my 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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