Sri Kamakoti Mandali  
shrImAtre namaH  
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Karma and Jnana

 

mudrAkShamAlA.amR^itapAtravidyA
vyAghrAjinArdhenduphaNIndrayuktam |
yogIndraparjanyamanassaroja-
bhR^i~NgaM bhaje.ahaM hR^idi dakShiNAsyam ||

vishwaM mAyAmayatvena rUpitaM yatprabodhataH |
vishwaM cha yatswarUpaM taM vArtikAchAramAshraye ||

The necessity of performing Karma, in general, is stated by the shruti itself: kurvanneveha karmANi jijIviShecchata{\m+} samAH. This advice is for those who have jivitecchA, or those still with deha tAdAtmya [identification of the self with the body]. Such an upAsaka, though desirous of mokSha, cannot give up karma. It is only for a jnAni who has no deha tAdAtmya that the Lord recommends in gItA shAstra: Atmanyeva cha santuShTastasya kAryaM na vidyate. When karma is performed with kartrtva [doership] and Asakti [attachment], it leads to bandha. Hence, the advice of the Lord to the mumukShu is: tasmAdasaktaH satataM kAryaM karma samAchara. Your question seems similar that of kaunteya who was confused whether the Lord was advising him to practice some kind of a mix-and match between jnAna and karma yogas. He clarifies that the adhikArins for karma and jnAna niShTha-s are different and also that the former is sAdhana while the latter is sAdhya. Also shruti variously declares: jnAnAdeva tu kaivalyam, na karmaNA na prajayA etc., to clarify that karma, without the apekShA of jnAna, cannot become sAkShAt hetu for mokSha. But the shruti again says, sattvashuddhau dhruvA smR^itiH, i.e. only in the one who has attained chitta or antaHkaraNa shuddhi [inner purification], jnAna arises. Thus, a mumukShu, for the sake of chitta shuddhi, should perform karma. naiShkarmya i.e. niShkriya brahma vastu is not simply attained by non-performance of karma [na karmaNAmanArambhAnnaiShkarmyaM puruSho.aShNute]. It is rather impossible for a being to stay without karma or action for even a second [na hi kashchit kShaNamapi jAtu tiShThatyakarmakR^it]. Based on his prakr^iti, a person always performs some action or the other like thinking, eating, walking, breathing etc. Even if one "stops" performing a karma, that act of giving up karma is a karma in itself. Giving up kartrtva of the karma performed would be true karma tyAga.

Without having rAga [interest or desire] or dweSha [hatred, dislike or repugnance] towards the fruits [phala] and exhibiting sama buddhi [equanimity] in siddhi and asiddhi [accomplishment or non-accomplishment], one who performs, through controlled indriyas [senses], vihita karmas [i.e. those karmas prescribed by the shAstras], such a man can achieve chitta shuddhi through such performance of karma. The inherent nindA in the stuti of karma is quite evident in the shAstras but here is the deal: yes, jnAna niShTha is certainly desirable but it is better to have karma nishThA than nothing at all. gItAchArya throws further light on the particulars of the karma that needs to be performed, niyataM kuru karma tvam, the shAstras prescribe karma to a person based on four criteria: varNa, Ashrama, svabhAva and paristhiti. Such prescribed karma, which is a duty [kartavya], is termed here as niyata karma. Though Karma is said to cause bondage, this is only true for that karma which is performed for the appeasement of the body and the senses. Karma done without the attachment to the desire and for the sole sake of pleasing parameshwara does not cause bondage, but rather cleanses the antaHkaraNa. Hence it is said, "Perform the Karma with the sense of shivArpaNam and not shavArpaNam [shava here indicating the jaDa deha]". Again, it is to be noted that while performing the karma, the two things to abandon are: desire for the fruit and the kartrtva buddhi. In the case of a jnAni, neither performance nor non-performance of karma has any effect whatsoever, either good or bad [nainam krtAkrtotapataH]. Hence, after attaining jnAna, one need not give up karma like janaka and others, for the sake of lokasamgraha. Why quote janaka, Lord vAsudeva himself is an example in this case.

Lord uses two interesting terms avidvAmsa and vidvAn to describe two categories of people. The first class of people performs the karma ordained by the shruti based on the four-fold criteria described earlier, with devotion and Asakti. It is this class that he terms as avidvAmsa, the non-scholarly. These are certainly not jnAni-s, as they have Asakti in karma but are neither pApAcharins [sinners] of AsurI pravR^itti as they perform devoutly the karma ordained by the shruti and smrti. Such upAsakas are adhikAri puruShas for karma and they should refine their karma by bringing in the key elements of anAsakti and kartrtva tyAga. It is this class that the Lord describes elsewhere as: ye.apyanyadevatA bhaktA yajante shraddhayAnvitAH, antavattu phalaM teShAm tadbhavatyalpamedhasAm etc. Now, Lord also describes how a jnAni should deal while in the company of a person into performance of karma. The first category of people described above are those who perform karma, and have faith in the efficacy of the karma they perform, the shAstras that ordain these karma, and the adR^iShTa phala or the fruit of the karma. By offering them untimely tattvopadesha, a jnAni should not cause confusion in the mind of the karmAdhikArin, which can result in him developing ashraddhA or disrespect towards the shAstra and the ordained karma. First of all, he is not an adhikAri for jnAna, and now, he is left as a pApAchArin due to his lost faith in karma as well! You did him no good by offering tattvopadesha but instead caused greater harm. The relevance of tattvopadesha is only after the attainment of antaHkaraNa shuddhi, before which, Sadguru should guide the disciple with instructions to attain chitta shuddhi. Now, if this is the code of conduct prescribed for a jnAni while dealing with an avidvAmsa, what to speak of an avidvAmsa trying to offer tattvopadesha to another avidvAmsa? This is exactly what parameshThi guru H H Sri Sri SacchidAnanda shivAbhinava nrsimha bhArati mahAswAminaH calls, "rogige rogiya shushrooshe", one terminally ill patient trying to nurse another of his kind to good health!

Now, for your second question, does karma generate happiness? What is happiness? Can I define that as absence of grief like some of the mImAmsakas? What causes grief? The body. What results in attaining a birth/body? The previous puNya and pApa earned. What results in a being attaining this puNya and pApa? The vidhi and niShedha rUpa karma ordained in the shruti. The reasons for karma are rAga and dveSha. The world of names and forms is what is responsible for raga and dveSha, which in turn is due to adhyAsa (super-imposing the self and the non-self on each other; satyAnr^itamithunIkaraNamadhyAsam). So, not knowing the true self is the root cause of grief, which leads us to the statement, knowing Atman is the only way to true bliss. The Atman himself is sukha swarUpi and the inherent AnandaswarUpa of Atman is masked by the AvaraNa shakti. The vikShepa shakti makes one falsely ascribe anekatva, kartrtvatva, bhoktrtvatva, duHkhatva etc. to the Atman. The AnadaswarUpi Atman is made to appear as the kriyAtmaka jIvAtman, jaDatmaka jagat and the all-knowing Ishwara. The root of all evil, avidyA, can be overcome only by Atma vidyA, the means of attaining which is what we have discussed so far.

It helps to know the various categories of karma. Certain Karmas are prescribed by the shAstras for attainment of specific desires. Such karma is called kAmya karma. For example, a couple desirous of a son is prescribed putrakAmeShTi, one interested in attaining the heaven should indulge in jyotiShToma etc. A mumukShu is taught never to indulge in kAmya karma [kAmyAnAm karmaNAm nyAsaM sannyAsaM kavayo viduH]. niShiddha karma is that which is banned by the shAstra, performance of which leads to ill-effects such as disease, attainment of hell etc. Some examples of such karma are: abhakShya bhojana, surApAna, parastrIgamana etc. Nitya karma is the basic duty ordained by the shAstra, which, when performed, does not result in any puNya, but failing to perform the same leads to pratyavAya. It is similar to breathing, by breathing, one stays alive but does not earn any other rewards. But if one gives up breathing, he attains death. sandhyAvandanA, pancha mahAyajna etc. are considered as nitya karma. Naimittika Karma is performed due to some nimitta or reason. For example, jAteShTi is performed at the birth of the son. Birth of the son is the nimitta and jAteShTi is the naimittika karma. Similarly, antyeShTi is performed on death.

Apart from these, there is also the prArabdha karma. Generally, prArabdha refers to the enjoyment of the fruits of the karma performed in previous birth/s, in the current birth. While dealing with prArabdha karma, there are two theories. The first group, called aikabhavika pakSha, states the following: The sum total of all the karma performed in the previous birth is the current birth. The fruits of karma performed in this birth should be completely enjoyed in the next birth. There is no concept of accumulating karma over several births. This theory is refuted by most of the prominent schools of thought. Now the second group recognizes three separate categories here: prArabdha, sanchita and AgAmI. The grand storage of karma, accumulated over all of the previous births is called sanchita karma. As samsAra is accepted to be anAdi (beginningless), sanchita karma also is also nearly infinite. It can be visualized as a queue of heaps of karma. In this queue, whatever heap is in a leading position is called prArabdha karma, which is responsible for the current birth and influences the current life. prArabdha karma is what has already begun, and is currently bearing fruit. It cannot be avoided and can only be exhausted by experiencing its fruits. AgAmi is what is being now done which will have repercussions in the future. These three areillustrated by the classic example of the bowman. The bowman has a quiver on his back with a bundle arrows which represents sanchita karma. He has already picked one arrow from this bundle and shot something. This arrow, which has left his bow and cannot be recalled, is prArabdha. Now, the arrow that he is about to shoot is AgAmi. From this, it can be seen that he has control on his sanchita and AgAmI karmas but not on prArabdha, which has already taken influence.

In essence, nitya karma generates dharma, which in turn destroys the sins, which are fruits of niShiddha karma. When sins are destroyed, the vision becomes clearer and one begins to understand the ephemeral nature of the world, leading to vairAgya or dispassion. This vairAgya leads to mumukShutA, which forces one to search for paths that lead to mokSha. This leads to karma sannyAsa and antarmukhatva of the now pure chitta and in this perfect setting, the comprehension of the mahAvAkya occurs effortlessly destroying ajnAna, firmly establishing the state of Atma nishThA. Thus, the usefulness of karma in utpatti of jnAna is well acknowledged by Acharyas.

Now, jnAna-karma samucchya as the formula for mokSha is the bhATTA view, efficiently rejected by our Acharyas. jnAna and karma bear the relation of sAdhya and sAdhana, owing to which, the concept of samucchayavAda itself becomes absurd. bAdhya bAdhaka sambandha between the two do not permit their co-existence. They are like the sheep and the tiger, one killing the other. This is stated by gItAchArya in many ways: jnAnAgniH sarvakarmANi bhasmasAt kurute tathA, jnAnAgnidagdhakarmANAm etc.

Let me try to briefly touch the basic differences between the philosophies of kumArila bhaTTa and prabhAkara based on my limited understanding of this subject. Both adhere to the school of pUrva mImAsa, but there are fundamental differences in these two schools of thought. prAbhAkaras view the shruti as being entirely karma-para. Performance of nitya and naimittika karma and tyAga of niShiddha and kAmya karma, they claim, lead one to mokSha. They are pure karmavAdins and do not accept that the shAstra proclaims the knowledge of the Atman. They accept pratyakSha [perception], anumAna [inference], shabda [verbal testimony], upamAna [comparison or analogy] and arthApatti [presumption or postulation] pramANas. They do not recognize abhAva. The bhATTas on the other hand, are samucchaya-vAdins; they claim that karma is as essential as jnAna for mokSha. They accept abhAva as a separate padArtha cognized through the pramANa of anupalabdhi [non-apprehension].

Coming to your last question, which is not quite related to the others, I would say that my take hardly matters. karmAdhikAra is crystal clear in the shastras that ordain karma. If one does not accept the adhikAra nirNaya, why should one perform karma ordained in the same shAstra, whose instructions you just ignored? What AchAryapAdAH says can be studied in his bhAShya on the apashUdrAdhikaraNa of bAdarAyaNa's vedAnta sUtra. Lord says: chaTurvarNyam mayA sR^iShTam. If it is to be believed that birth is an accident, then the entire discussion till now is futile. If not, then birth and the resulting varNa are based on prArabdha as we discussed earlier. varNa dharma etc. are the basic tenets of the sanAtana dharma and the now prevalent attitude of the so-called secularists to view sanAtana dharma and its branches [be it tantra or yoga] in isolation from these basic tenets can only be called a joke. shAstra has stated many such things very clearly. One, reject the shAstras and refuse to accept them or other branches arising out of them. Two, accept the shAstra in totality and not selectively. Both these options are not only fair but also logical. But to interpret the already clear shAstra vAkya with twists and turns to support pseudo-secular theories is a sheer waste of time and effort as practice of such theories produce no lasting results.

kalpAntojjR^imbhamANapramathatarivR^iDhaprauDhalAlATavahni-
jvAlAlIDhatrilokIjanitachaTachaTAdhvAnadhikAradhuryaH |
madhye brahmANDabhANDodarakuharamanaikAntyaduHsthAmavasthAm
styAnastyAno mamAyaM dalayatu duritaM shrInR^isimhATTahAsaH ||