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

Vinodh vinodh.iitm at gmail.com
Sun Mar 21 01:26:55 EDT 2021


Very interesting discussion.

Below are a few thoughts and observations from my personal experience in a
family with both followers of traditional Advaita Acharyas as well as
followers of Sri Ramana.

*Two different paths for two different kinds of people*

While what Sri Ramana says is not contradictory to the Advaita shaastram
(sruti, smruti, etc. of the Vaidika Dharmam), I have found far too often
that His words on the Nivrutthi margam (vrutti = occupation / indulgence;
nivrutthi = without occupation / actionless) get far too often
misinterpreted by his followers, who are still very much in Pravrutthi
margam (indulgence in activities / being occupied). Assuming doership and
performing one’s duties according to shaastram is called pravrutthi margam.

*The danger in mixing the two paths *

I think this misinterpretation is not very different from how the words of
Buddha, who was also a jnani, were misinterpreted by his followers a couple
of thousand years back. What is applicable to jnanis (like Buddha or Jina
or Ramana) is not what is applicable to everyone. If one starts applying
what applies to jnanis to ajnanis, this will lead to spiritual degradation. If
a person who has desires and a sense of doership is asked to remain
actionless, it is impossible for him / her to do so. Worse still, while
still having a strong sense of doership, that person’s intellect may start
fooling him/herself and others by justifying all their actions. These
actions which stem out of their desires will be justified as Ishwara’s
will, even if they are evidently against the Vaidika Shaastram, which has
been given by Ishwara through Vedam and conveyed to us by rishis and gurus
of the Advaita Sampradaya. The prescribed ways of pravrutthi marga advise
us not to develop aham-bhaavam of any kind, so the feeling of “I am doing”
and the superiority of the doer must naturally be suppressed over time. At
the same time, in contrast to just prescribing the nivrutthi marga to
everyone (a one-size-fits-all approach), what is said in Vaidikam is
prescribed for different divisions of the society and for different phases
of one’s life so that each person according to their position (i.e., varna
and ashrama) and spiritual maturity can progress toward realizing their
oneness with the paramatma.

Moreover, taking only a part of the Vaidika  Shaastram (e.g., Nivrutthi
margam only) and claiming it to be the whole is also wrong. It is said that
even the Vedas are scared of such an Alpa-shrouta (one who has knowledge of
only a part of the scriptures). Sri Shankara Bhagavadpada (as well as the
lineage of Advaita Acharyas) has endorsed the entirety of the Vaidika
Dharmam, that is, the Pravrutthi and Nivrutthi margam, along with Bhakthi
which is integral to both, as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures (shruthi,
smruthi, itihasa-purana).

*What is the best way then?*

Giving up doership and enjoyership (kartrtva and bhoktrtva) is definitely
the best, and this is the quality of a jnani. However, for an ajnani like
me, that is very hard. Also, as an ajnani, I think that to pretend to not
have doership or enjoyership and fooling oneself will put me in even more
danger. For an ajnani, it is therefore advised in the Pravrutthi margam to
simply assume kartrtva and follow one’s karma as prescribed by shaastram as
a yoga (by sacrificing the karma-phala or the front of anyone to Ishwara).
This is Bhagavan Krishna’s message to Arjuna. Such a karma-yoga will lead
to chit-shuddhi (purity of mind) because of Ishwara’s grace, and lead one
to the nivrutthi marga, where one truly gives up doership and enjoyership
by taking up sanyasam.

Pravrutthi and nivrutthi margam are very different and are meant for people
with very different tendencies. They should not be mixed up and confused,
lest it lead to further degradation in one’s spiritual progress. In
gaarhastyam, one, while still having kartrtva and bhoktrtva and performing
vaidika anushtaanam according to the pravrutthi margam, detaches oneself
from karma-phala by sacrificing it to Ishwara (“parameshwara prityartham”).
In sannyaasam, one gives up karma and also detaches oneself from kartrtva
and bhoktrtva by following the nivrutthi margam. This distinction is
important. An ajnani cannot be in grihastashramam and claim no kartrtvam.
That will only end up confusing oneself and others. A jnani like Bhagavan
Ramana has no kartrtva or bhoktrtva (doership or enjoyership). However kartrtva
and bhoktrtva are very clearly present in an ajnani like me. An ajnani
should not assume that what a jnani says is also applicable to him / her.
This will cause severe confusion and harm.

What jnanis say is the truth that everything is happening only according to
Ishwara’s will. However, an ajnani has to be careful how this is
interpreted. For example, one cannot keep doing things against the
shaastram and say that it is all Ishwara’s doing only. This is because an
ajnani still has the sense of doership. Hence, it is recommended for an
ajnani to learn these concepts about jnanam, but as long as he / she has
not given up karma to follow the nivrutthi margam, one should perform karma
according to the pravrutthi margam and offer the fruit of actions to
Ishwara so that one may get cht-shuddhi by Ishwara’s grace.

Om tat sat. 🙏

On Sun 21. Mar 2021 at 03:47, Akilesh Ayyar via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Venkat,
> On Sat, Mar 20, 2021 at 3:18 PM Ven Balakrishnan via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> > Akilesh
> >
> > You wrote:
> > "If we say the world appearance continues, then the burnt rope is
> > precisely the thought of me or mine. That thought would be the ego and
> its
> > remaining vasanas. For there is no such thing as vasana-free observation
> of
> > differences in the world"
> >
> > OK, and I guess that is why logic would push one to 5a.  However do note
> > the following from Bhagavan:
> >
> Well, what would be a bit more accurate than either 5a or 5b, would be to
> say that the world appearance, which cannot be said to have ever begun,
> cannot therefore be said to either to end or to continue. Jnana is
> precisely this going beyond those categories. That leaves us with ajata, to
> which all the verses that you cite are really referring.
> Akilesh Ayyar
> Spiritual guidance - https://www.siftingtothetruth.com/
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