[Advaita-l] Pratyavaaya paapam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Oct 21 13:52:02 CDT 2008

On Mon, 20 Oct 2008, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> Here is my understanding:
> The discussion of pratyavaaya paapam is irrelevant for sanyaasins since 
> they do not have those nityya karmas.

Wrong way round.  They do not have nitya karmas because they do not, 
indeed cannot, have pratyavAya pApa.

> The discussion with reference to 
> them only pertains to mixing karma with jnaana as requirement for 
> moksha. Hence Shankara dismisses jnaana karma samucchaya taking 
> sanyaasins as basis.

Atleast we agree that this only refers to sannyasis.  Now, we have to ask 
the broader question of why is he taking sannyasis as the basis?  At this 
point let me interject an observation from Dr. Yadu so I can answer both.

On Mon, 20 Oct 2008, Dr. Yadu Moharir wrote:
> I think above position makes lot more sense because even if one cleans the
> cooking pot well and stores it away it will accumulate dust over the
> period.  Thus it is necessary to keep on keeping removing the tarnish / dust
> through nitya karma. 

The problem is if karma to counteract pApa is eternally necessary, it implies 
that pApa is also eternal.  This is perhaps acceptable to dualists, but 
for us it would mean brahman is atleast partially of the nature of pApa 
(because there is only one eternal.)  If this is the case then moksha or 
indeed fighting pApa at all is futile because like bailing water from a 
sinking ship, no matter how much you throw out, more will seep in.

Advaita Vedanta believes that karma is only from the mAya of brahman.  It 
had a beginning, a first cause, therefore it must have an end.  The 
continuing cycle of karmic actions and reactions is caused by ahaMkAra, 
the sense of ego.  Nitya karma is transitional.  It is action sure, but it 
is done without egoistic motives.  Therefore it can lead away from saMsAra 
and towards mokSha.

Sorry for the digression.  The point is this: The only possible way to put 
an end to karma is to not get involved it i.e. sannyasa.  No matter how 
much a "jnana yogi" may wish, if he is involved in karma and by karma we 
mean _any_ sort of motivated action whether ritual in nature or not, he 
will remain ensnared by it.  And if his motives for involvement are bogus 
(to avoid boredom etc.) then not only will he remain ensnared but his 
position will become worse and worse.  The only way out for such a person 
is to replace ego-driven actions with egoless actions or not to act 

> The subsequent discussion of Shankara related to pratyavaaaya paapam 
> therefore refers to only gruhastas.

Then why is a comparison made to brahmacharis not grhasthas?  The answer I 
think is because like sannyasis, brahmacharis are "renouncers" but of a 
limited type.  (Their renunciation only lasts for the period of their 
vedic study.) As their worldly circumstances change, their nitya karma 
changes.  But sannyasis are are "full" renouncers.  They have no 
connection with the world therefore there is no scope for them to have 
nitya karma.

I am reminded of Yogasutra 2.31 where it is observed that most people 
observer the vratas of ahimsa etc. to some extent but it is restricted by 
time, place, class etc.  For instance a fisherman may bear no emnity to 
anyone except for fish to which he is their mortal enemy.  But for a yogi, 
ahimsa is a mahAvrata.  They are not violent to anyone or anything 
whatsover.  In the same way your putative jnana yogis to some extent 
practice the vrata of renunciation.  Yet they also selectively choose to 
be attached to other things.  Therefore they have no right to shed their 
obligations.  When renunciation becomes a mahAvrata, i.e. when they take 
sannyasa, then there will be no obligations.

> The pertinence of Ch. Up reference with bhovotpatti from abhaava is 
> across the board - one cannot have existence from non-existence. This 
> argument stands on its own without any relavence to aashrama of the 
> adhikaari.

Then why does any Ashrama have nityakarmas?  Why is there a seperate 

> Looks like my understanding of bhaashya differs from yours. All I can 
> say is my understanding is based on Swami Purushottamanandaji's not too 
> long ago detailed analysis of Shankara Bhaashya of B. Gita.

Who is this Swami Purushottamananda?  Can you give a reference to this 
analysis so I can examine it for myself?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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