[Advaita-l] Reply to Sri Vidyamanya Tirtha's observations

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 12 08:53:12 CST 2013

PraNAms to all
There seems to be some confusion in terms of karma phala tyagam and karma sanyaasam. Couple of years ago in response to a question I posted series of articles with the title A perspective. Here  I copying part of one of the articles that relates to this topic for those who are interested.
Hari Om!


Karma phala tyaaga is what it says – I am renouncing the results of an action – What does that mean or what does that really involve. Let us take one example. I worked very hard for a month and as a result I got paid, the salary that is due to me. Now scripture says I have to practice karma phala thyaaga for my chitta suddhi or for purification of my mind.  Does that involve renouncing my salary? If so, pretty soon I will be on the streets begging for food. In addition, I will be dragging all others who depend on that salary. Obviously that is not what karma phala tyaaga implies. When it says that I have to renounce the results of my action, I can do so only if there is feeling that the results are mine. That is, there is a mamakaara associated with the results. I cannot definitely renounce anything which does not belong to me. There is a famous saying in Telugu – attagari sommu alluDu daanamu cesinaTTu – that is it is like mother-in-laws wealth
 the son-in-law is readily and freely donating to others. Hence, I have to own it for me to renounce. The salary belongs to me since I worked hard and earned out with my sweat; we say. That is our attitude when we perform an action and gets the results of the action.  We think we deserve. By the by, there is a booklet with the title - Serve & Deserve - by Swami Tejomayanandaji glorifying Hanuman who serves without any expectations and returns; hence deserves to be revered as God himself.  The essence of the teaching is -  I have to serve in order for me to deserve. 

The renunciation of fruits of the action, therefore, involves a change in the attitude with which I receive the fruits of my actions. I have recognized the presence of the Lord in every set up, and perform the action as best as I can and offer the action with devotion as a prayer to the Lord. Since the result of action comes from Him, I accept the result as prasaadam, that is, with reverential attitude, since it comes from Him. This means there is no mamakaara in the result when I accept the result as His prasadam. I have no attachment to the result. In the temples, when someone offers as Lord’s prasaadam, my attitude in receiving it is an attitude of reverence, since it comes from Him. Irrespective of whether it is a sweet, hot, or bitter; food, flower, or water, I accept it without questioning why or why not –thus only with a reverential attitude without any likes and dislikes superimposed on it. Thus the result is accepted without a reaction.

Coming back to the main topic, the karma phala tyaaga involves 1. performance of action as a duty (which is called service) and accepting the result as prasaadam – without reaction, only with a reverential attitude. In the process, mamakaara or notion that this is mine goes away – What I have is His gift and what I do with what I have is my gift to Him- says Swami Chinmayanandaji – this continuous exchange of gifts forms dhaarmic wheel of action set forth by the creator himself in the beginning of creation, says Krishna. This is the essence of karma phala tyaagam.

Karma Sanyaasa:

The next level of understanding comes with jnaana where I understand that I am not even a doer, to claim the result.  Here there is no karma phala tyaaga since karma itself does not belong to me. It is clear understanding that I was and I am never a doer to begin with. This understanding comes with jnaana where I understand that I am akarthaa – in spite of actions being done by the body, mind and intellect, BMI. When that understanding sinks in, I recognize that BMI belongs to the prakRiti which is nothing but maayaa only – maayantu prakRitim viddhyaat,  says Swetasvatara Up.  I recognize that I am pure saakshii, and prakRiti becomes dynamic in my presence and performs an action.  Sat-chit-ananda that I am is never gets affected by the actions or inactions of the prakRiti. Hence, Krishna says:
prakRiti eva ca karmaaNi kriyamaanaani sarvaShaH|, 
yaH pasyati tat aatmaanam akartaaram sa pasyati|| 

– All actions are done by prakRiti alone and whoever recognizes that I am never a doer – he alone sees the truth. Hence jnaani understands that actions do not belong to him but to prakRiti but that prakRiti acts in his presence only. He remains akarthaa or non-doer in spite of any action that is being done in his presence. Krishna discusses action, inaction and unaction exhaustively in Ch. 4 saying that many have misconceptions about it.  

With this understanding we can look at the question – what does the sarva karma sanyaasa – renunciation of all actions implies. This cannot be done by giving up the action as Krishna discusses in the 18th Ch. Gita. He starts the Geetopadesha with the statement that no one can remain even for a second without performing an action. If so, how can I give up an action? However if I understand correctly that I am never an actor in spite of the action that is being done at BMI level, then I have – as though – renounced any notion that I am actor – that forms the essence of sarva karma sanyaasa – giving up all the actions without any exception. Hence the statement essentially means there is no more kartRitva bhaavam, that is, the notion that I am doer is gone in the awakening of the knowledge that I am pure saakshii swaruupam. Clear understanding of this fact is sarva karma sanyaasa. It is essentially renouncing the wrong notions that I am doer and
 therefore I have to give up the doing. If I am never a doer, where is there then to give up. Therefore karma sanyaasa should imply I am renouncing the notion that I am a doer. That can happen only when I understand the fact that I am pure sat-chit-ananda swaruupa. Hence Krishna says: 

naivakinchit karomiiti yukto manyeta tattavavit|
pasyanshRinvanspRishan jigran ashnan gacchanswapansvasan||
pralayan visRijan gRahanan unmiShannimiShannapi|
indriyanindriyaartheShu vartanta iti dharayan|| 

All activities are being done by the senses as they are programmed and jnaani understands that he is never a doer –Krishna lists all the activities at BMI level as being performed by the prakRiti itself. 

That understanding is sarva karma sanyaasa – it is not really renouncing actions that I never did or do, but renouncing the notion that I am doer. These notions will get removed only in the awakening of the true knowledge.

Hari Om!

On Tue, 11/12/13, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com> wrote:

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list