Karma, jnAna and moksha (Part 2)


5.1 A sentence is useful if it suggests positive action. A statement of fact alone does not give the result.
K2 claims that a sentence has to necessarily have a verb and a verb suggest action. If a sentence is without a verb, it is reduced to merely a jumble of words. As a verb is the most important part of any sentence, it is to be concluded that karma is the central teaching of any Veda-vakya. K2 argues that the sentences presenting Self-knowledge in the Veda do not constitute teaching. They are statements of facts without commanding any action and have no utility. For example, the statement, ‘water is available in the container’, is a statement of fact that serves no purpose. One has to follow up with the action of fetching and drinking the water. A mahAvakyaA does not have such a verb. Therefore, it does not convey the teaching of Veda.

5.2 Rebuttal

While accepting that verb is necessary, the AchArya explains that there are two types of verbs, namely, action revealing and fact revealing, and depending on the contexts appropriate verb is to be supplied. In mahAvAkyas, ‘I am Brahman’ and ‘Thou art that’, the verbs ‘am’ and ‘art’ enable the mahAvakyas to convey information about the AtmA without applying any of the six modes of changes that action can bring about. Verse 98 of chapter 1 of NS says
“Since the sentences like, ‘that thou art’, teach the existence of reality that is revealed as self-evident, not even gods can introduce new meaning into them other than the one they already possess.” [Translation A J Alston]

6.1 References to verses from IshAvasyA Upanishad and Bhagwad Gita               K2 has quoted 2nd verse of the IshAvasya Upanishad- ‘engaged in actions, let him desire to live for a hundred years’ and verse 5, chapter 18 of BG- ‘do not give up sacrifices, charity, and austerity as they are the purifiers of the wise’- to support the view that the Veda talks about karma and not jnAna. As one hundred years is a full life, one has to do Vedic karmas throughout life. SanyAsa is not the teaching of Veda. It is for those who cannot do Vedic karma because of physical or mental infirmities.
6.2 Refutation
A karmavAdi performs rituals to get favorable results including swarga following the principle that the kartA is the bhoktA. K2 also believes in an eternal AtmA, distinct from the mind and body, and further that the AtmA is akartA and abhoktA, asanga and devoid of varnAsrma. Therefore, an AtmajnAni cannot be a kartA or bhotA because he claims himself to be the AtmA not belonging to any varnAsrama. In that event, he cannot engage in Vedic karmas. It would follow that the above verse of the IshAvasya Upanishad is not addressed to an AtmajnAni. The AchArya brings the attention of K2 to the words ‘नरे’ in Upanishadic verse. It is addressed to नरे (human being). It is addressed to one who considers himself as a human being, i.e., an ajnAni and not a jnAni.

7.1 Jaimini’s sUtra
K2 refers to a sUtra by Jaimini in PUrva MImAmsa SAstra :“AmanAyasya kriyArthathvAth Anarthakyam athadharthAnam”. Meaning: since the Veda deals with karma, any Vedic sentence which gives only facts is not useful.
7.2 Rebuttal
The Acharya clarifies that Jaimini’s sUtras are pUrva mImAmsa sUtras that analyze the pUrva bhAga (karma kAnda) of Veda. Jaimini’s guru, VyAsAchArya, on the other hand, has authored uttara mImAmsa for JnAna Kanda. As Jaimini has limited himself to the karma kAnda, whenever he uses the word Veda, it refers to Veda pUrva bhAga. It is true that in the karma kAnda, siddha bodhaka vAkyas and knowledge therefrom do not give any result by themselves. They have to be acted upon with prescribed karmas. For example, a siddha bodhaka vAkya, giving detailed descriptions of swarga gives the swarga jnAna and not swarga result. To give swarga result, it has to be connected to the vidhi vAkya: “jyotistomena swarga kamo yajeta”, an aspirer of heaven has to perform Jyotistoma Yagya. On the other hand, the jnAna given in the jnAna kAnda is not governed by any vidhi and is not to be followed by any karma. The jnAna directly gives benefits, namely, removal of Self-ignorance and culminating in liberation. Jaimini says that one has to perform Agnihotra to go to heaven. In verse 92, chapter 1, NS, the AchArya queries as to how can Jaimini perform anything knowing, as per his own principles, that he is essentially different from the body?

8.1 Samuchchaya
The three types of combinations are:
K3.1: a combination in which karma is dominant,
K3.2: a combination in which jnAna is dominant, and
K3.3: a combination in which karma and jnAna are equal partners.
According to SwAmi ParmarthAnandA , K3.1 may refer to a part of the last verse in Section 1, Chapter 1, ChhAndhyogya Upanishad: yadeva vidyayA karoti shradhayopanishada tadeva vIryavattaram bhavati. Meaning: karma which is done with knowledge, faith, and meditation becomes more powerful. Thus, karma is the main sAdhanAa and produces greater results, if backed by jnAna. Karma is angI and jnAna is angam. Here, K3.1 interprets vidyA as AtmajnAna, whereas, according to a Vedantin, it means upAsanA.
K3.2 could seek support from a portion of verse IV.iv.22, BrahadAranyaka Upanishad
“Tametam vedAnuvachanena brAhmanA vividishanti yagyena, dAnene,
tapasAnAshakena” – Meaning: BrAhmanas seek to know It (Brahman) through the study of Veda, sacrifices, charity, and austerity consisting in a dispassionate enjoyment of sense objects. The implication is that karma supports knowledge.
K3.3 refers to 11th verse of the IshAvAsya Upanishad:
विद्यां चाविद्यां च यस्तद्वेदोभयं सह ।
अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्ययामृतमश्नुते ॥
Knower of the nature of both knowledge and action transcends death and enjoys everlasting bliss brought out by Self-knowledge. Knowledge alone cannot give liberation. It should be with karma.
8.2 Refutation
8.21 Karmas including upAsana ( meditation) are born of ignorance and cannot join hands with jnAna for liberation. Karma is not a remover of ignorance; it is a product of ignorance.
(1) Self-ignorance leads to duality and multiplicity,
(2) duality results in likes and dislikes,
(3) likes and dislikes cause attachment and aversion, and
(4) attachment and aversion compel a person to engage in action.
Action is a 4th generation effect of ignorance, the cause. Since an effect inherits the qualities of the cause, ignorance is inherent in action. The mistaken belief (ignorance) that I am apUrna causes the struggle for happiness through action. A doubt may arise. Can actions convert apUurna into pUrna? The answer is that any number of actions will convert one apUrna into another apUrna. Not only non-Vedic actions, Vedic karmas are also due to ignorance, namely, that I am apUrna causing desire as the propeller of Vedic karmas. The Veda does not command a person to perform a ritual. It only gives information about good and bad karmas and their results. It is the desire that drives a person to action, good or bad. Though there are some direct commandments in the Veda, such as, speak the truth, non-violence, observing them depends on the choice of the individual emanating from his desire. And desire is a product of ignorance.

Karma is only a remote contributor to the production of knowledge. It does not directly destroy nescience like knowledge because it is not contrary to nescience. An extract from the translation of NS by Aston elaborates.
“From performance of the daily rituals comes merit(dharma), from merit comes destruction of sin, from this comes purity of mind, from this comes a correct evaluation of transmigratory life, from this comes indifference to it, from this comes desire for liberation, from this comes a search for the means to the latter, from this comes the renunciation of all ritualistic action and its accessories, from this practice of yoga, from this the focusing of the mind within, from this a knowledge of the meaning of texts like “ That thou art”, from this establishment in the Self alone, from the texts, “ Verily, being the Absolute ( Brahman), he attains the Absolute”, and “Released, he is released”.”

8.22 Karma yoga and jnAna yoga cannot exist side by side and help each other because knowledge destroys ignorance whereas karma is not only born out of ignorance it reinforces ignorance. A karma yogi may study Vedanta while doing karma. Such a study does not constitute jnAna yoga. After Self-knowledge, he may continue to do karma for the welfare of the society as taught in verse 20, chapter III of BG at the vyavhAric level, which is mithya. The Acharya says that only one yoga will be functional for a seeker at one time even if both karma and vichAra are done at the same time. The original Vedic scheme was that grihastha Asrama was for the practice of karma yoga and sanyAsa Asrama for jnAnaa yoga. A combination where karma and jnAna are equal partners will also not work because the latter is the destroyer and the former is the destroyed. A lion and a sheep cannot work together in partnership. Karma and jnAna cannot co-exist in a person at one time. When the mind is absorbed in JnAna, then one has the vritti of akartA, aboktA, asamsAri, ‘I do not have even prArabhdha, which is mithyA’, ‘I perform action only for welfare of the world’, ‘I do not require karma for liberation since I am already mukta’.
As waking state and dreaming state are mutually exclusive, so are AtmajnAna and karma. Scriptures talk of two types of knowledge: parA vidyA and aparA vidyA. AparA vidyA is worldly knowledge. AparA vidyA and karma are friendly to each other and mutually supportive. In fact, for improving karma, one has to have thorough knowledge about karma. This is true of both secular actions and Vedic karma. A knowledge that reinforces duality and ahankAra can co-exist with karma. Self-knowledge and karma stand in contradiction. An example brings out the difference between the two. A person has mistaken a post for a robber because of darkness. Other people know that it is erroneous knowledge. But for the particular individual it a true knowledge and it will cause the act of running away. Thus, this knowledge and running away are promoter-promoted. It is an instance of the knowledge-action duo, i.e., as a junior partner, erroneous knowledge can join with action. If the truth (right knowledge) is realized by the individual, i.e., there is no robber but only a post, he will not run. For two things to function together as main and support they have to fulfill a condition. The supported one should have a nature similar to that of the supporting one. Self-knowledge means ‘I am neither a doer nor an enjoyer’, no varnAshrama, and therefore no karma. Hence jnAna cannot support karma.
It has been earlier seen as to how karma only remotely contributes to the rise of knowledge. As action (born of ignorance) is not a direct means to gain knowledge, knowledge cannot remove ignorance if action is a junior partner, not to talk as equal or senior partner. Action is sourced from nescience whereas knowledge is of truth. Conjunction between the two is like a conjunction between the sun and the night.
8.23 VarnAshram
A performer of Vedic ritual has to fulfill the qualification of VarnAshram prescribed for the particular ritual. Then only it will produce the desired fruits. In other words, varnaArama abhimAna is a prerequisite for a Vedic karmi. For secular actions also, one has to have mind-body ahankAra and doer and enjoyer notion. On the other hand, the Self has no varnAsrama. It is neither a doer nor an enjoyer. The co-existence of jnAna and karma is as impossible as the co-existence of sun and darkness. (continued)

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