[Advaita-l] Karma yoga: the kinder, softer preparation for self-inquiry and surrender

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Mar 19 03:50:16 EDT 2021

On Thu, 11 Mar 2021, Sudhanshu Shekhar wrote:

> Ok.
> But then how would you reconcile several grihastha jivanmuktas available in
> Puranas.

The Vedas were not given by some God or prophet as in other religions. 
The Rshis "saw" or "heard" the mantras as they instinctively performed 
dharma.  This process did not take place in any particular order or time 
scale.  According to e.g. Vishnupurana in every cycle of creation there is 
a Veda Vyasa ("arranger of the Vedas") who puts them into the systematic 
form we have now. Even when we come into historical times, there is 
evidence of systemization.  For instance in the Brahmasutras, there is a 
question about certain upasanas which are angas of a yajna are to be 
performed by the sacrificer or the priest.  (Although this is couched in 
terms of karma, it is relevant to the role of upasana in the pursuit of 
jnana so it is appropriate to be discussed here.)  Atreya gives one view 
and Audolomi gives another.  the sutrakara says the siddhanta is the view 
of Audolomi.

The reason I bring this up is because the Rshis have an anomalous status. 
They are usually depicted in the popular imagination as living in forests 
with matted hair and deerskin garments like ascetics but also 
married and performing yajnas like householders.  The satyayuga was a kind 
of state of spiritual anarchy where people were able to discern dharma by 
intuition and it is was over time as humans capacity diminished that 
formal rules were made.  Choices were made to reject some views and accept 
others.  That was then but now is a different matter.

For instance there is a puzzling story in Adiparva of Mahabharata 
concerning Shvetaketu.  It implies that not Uddalaka Aruni but one of his
students is the real father of Shvetaketu and it is in response to this, 
that Shvetaketu established the institution of vivaha.  If there is no 
marriage then there is no grhastha ashrama and therefore no question of 
renouncing it.

> My understanding has been -- the sequence of Gitabhashya 5.12 --
> कर्मयोग--सत्त्व-शुद्धि -- ज्ञानप्राप्ति -- सर्वकर्मसंन्यास-- ज्ञाननिष्ठा-- मोक्ष is a
> sequence which spans across many lives. ज्ञाननिष्ठा and सर्वकर्मसंन्यास require
> physical sanyasa. But a person in such states -- which is post सत्त्वशुद्धि --
> if he dies and gets another body, he no longer is required to again have
> physical sanyasa. He carries from there and attains Moksha in whichever
> ashrama he is.

What you are describing is called kramamukti.  It isn't any less mukti 
than jivanmukti; it is slower that's all.

> He can attain that even while being in womb like Vamadeva.
> This is how we can reconcile grihastha jivanmuktas also.

If Vamadeva is still in the womb than he is not in the grhastha or any 
ashrama.  He is an example of antarashrami, one who is between ashramas. 
Other examples could be one who has had samavartana sanskara (which marks 
the end of vedic study and brahmacharya ashrama) but not yet had vivaha 
sanskara (which is the beginning of grhastha ashrama)  Or someone whose 
wife has died (which ends grhastha ashrama) but has not yet taken 

Yet another category is mind-born sons of Brahma such as Narada or 
Sanatkumars who got jnana before there was even a srshti and therefore no 
need or opportunity to escape samsara.

All these are special conditions but the norm is well-established.

> If we posit requirement of physical sanyasa in a particular birth, grihastha
> jivanmukta will be impossibility. Isn't that so?

Yes this is correct.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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