[Advaita-l] Samit Pani

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Nov 17 15:17:19 CST 2013

Tying up a few more loose ends...

On Fri, 25 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> But this is going against Adi Sankara's argument Brahma Jnana will happen
> after giving up Karma Kanda.

That's not his argument at all.  Destruction of ahamkara is the cause of 
jnana.  Karmakanda even of the nitya-naimittika kind involves the saMkalpa 
ahama amuka karma karishye.  However merely giving up karmakanda is not 
necessarily sufficient as one can have ego for other reasons.

On Sun, 27 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Can we say in ancient days all Brahma Jnanis were householders only?

No.  Pippalada in the very upanishad you quote is a sannyasi.

> Adi Sankara started the Sanyasi Brahma Jnani sampradaya?

Shankaracharya is said to have started the dashanami (those who have the 
10 names Saraswati, Bharati, Giri, Puri, Aranya, Tirth, Van, Sagara, 
Parvata, and Ashrama)  sampradaya which is one institutional form of 
sannyasa.  However some also say it was his 4 shishyas who had 10 shishyas 
of their own who are the founders.  This seems plausible to me because we 
see that although Sureshwaracharya, Totakacharya etc. did change their 
names after taking sannyasa it was not to one of the 10 names.

Because Shankaracharya is the exemplar of astikata par excellence, anytime
someone wants to show the bona fides of a particular tradition they say it 
was "started by Shankaracharya" but that doesn't necessarily mean it was 

However there most certainly were sannyasis, even organized ones long 
before then.  For instance Patanjali in his mahabhashya on vyakarana 
mentions Bhikshusutras evidently a work giving a code of conduct for 
sannyasis which indicates atleast some level of organization. (Or some say 
it is another name for brahmasutras which would still be a connection 
between Vedanta and sannyasis.)

He also reference "shivabhagavatas" and mentions that they were wandering 
mendicants who carried a trishula.  This is probably a reference to 
Pashupatas, a non-vedic (but made up of Brahmanas) Shaiva sampradaya that 
were at one time very influential and widespread throughout India (At one 
time such important mandirs as Somanath and Mallikarjuna were controlled 
by Pashupatas.)

Bhaskara Mishra a near contemporary of Shankaracharya calls himself a 
Tridandi a form of sannyasa still practiced by Vaishnavas.  Tridandis and 
ekadandis are both mentioned in the Mahabharata and Puranas.

> But why he started
> it? Why he was not happy with householder Jnanis? Why he thinks only
> Sanyasis can have Brahma Jnana?

Again think about what being a householder means.  You can try and 
keep it to a minimum but you cannot be involved in worldly life without 
some measure of duality.  It is possible to realize the truth at any stage 
but unless that truth is put into practice it is just theoretical like a 
beggar discoursing about all the things he will buy when he is a 

On Fri, 25 Oct 2013, Shrinivas Gadkari wrote:

> Namaste,
> If we look at the Vedic literature, we find abundant examples
> of Brahama Jnana being mastered by grihasthas.
> To name a few: Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, Atri, Vyasa, Vasistha,
> Agastya, Yajnavalkya, Sandipani, Bhrigu, Jamadagni, Janaka,
> Ajatashatru were brahma jnani grihasthas.
> Even the trinity and all devas are grihasthas. So most certainly
> brahma jnana is not reserved for sannyasis only.

On Mon, 28 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> In Advaita Parampara we can see Rishis like Vasishtha, Sakti, Parashara,
> Vyasa and Suka. Those Rishis were householders living with wives and
> children. They were doing Yajnas regularly. But they were Brahma Jnanis. No
> one can deny that.

Divine examples do not count.  What does mukti mean when one can change 
bodies at will?  Sometimes one and the same devatas appear as enlightened
and deluded, teacher and taught.

Amongst the Rshis, yes many were grhasthas (again some like Pippalada were 
not.)  A Rshi is a mantra drashta which implies nothing about their 
conduct or even ethics only they were "inspired" to see a mantra. These 
Rshis who saw (or shrUta "heard" our senses are inadequate to describe the 
process.) and their shishyas proceeded to ponder the meaning of this 
revalation in a logical and systematic way.  This process was called 
brahmavada Mimamsa and the brahmavadins coalesced over generations into 
two broad camps the purva mimamsakas who asserted the primacy of karma, 
and the uttara mimamsakas or vedantins who believed in the primacy of 
jnana.  Partly due to the challenges of rival philosophies, these views 
were collected and into collections of sutras where the views of some 
ancient thinkers were rejected and others declared the cannonical dogmas 
of that school.  There remained enough controversy plus new challenges and 
environments that the process of systemization didn't stop there.

> In Upanishad period all Brahma Jnanis were householders only. There were no
> Sanyasis. All disciples with Brahma Jijnasa were going to the Brahma Jnani
> Rishis with Samit in hands to give them for Yajna purpose. The Rishis were
> using the Samits for Yajnas.

All astikas agree that the Vedas and their subsidiary shastras speak of 
both karma and jnana but there is a broad spectrum of views as to the 
relationship between the two.  At one extreme you have the Bhattas and 
Prabhakaras who are kevalakarmavadis.  At the other you have Advaitins who 
are kevalajnanavadis.  In between there is a range of views that combine 
the two - jnanakarmasammuchayavada.

> In Upanishad period the Advaita was followed was different. It was like
> Mandana Mishra's Advaita like mixing Jnana and Karma. A Brahma Jijnasu was
> doing Yajnas and studying Upanishads also at the same time. It was Jnana
> Karma Samuccaya Vada of Mandana Mishra. Mandana Mishra has praised Vaidika
> Karmas are important for Brahma Jnana.

No.  Mandana Mishra wrote on (purva) Mimamsa and Vedanta but he did not 
combine the two. (Though you could say he gave a more positive position to 
it than Shankaracharya though he is still a kevalajnani.)  Many authors 
did the same even up to modern times because the two are closely related. 
For that matter Jaimini and Badarayana are both quoted in each others 
sutras.  A modern example of jnanakarmasamuchaya is someone like Ramanuja.

> But when Kali Yuga started the people's minds became corrupted. There was
> distraction by Yajnas. The disciple's minds became disturbed because Guru
> was living with wife and children but those disciples were living alone
> like Brahmacharis.  Adi Sankara brought the Sanyasa order to avoid all the
> problems . He made a rule only Sanyasis can be Brahma Jnanis. Brahma
> Jijnasu also has to become Sanyasi only. Adi Sankara argued very much
> against Mandana Mishra's Advaita. He said no person can practice Karma
> Kanda and Jnana Kanda at the same time. Give up Karma if you want Jnana.

See, it is this totally tangential evidence-free speculation that you 
indulge in that people find so annoying not your legitimate questions.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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