Author Topic: From karma yoga to jnaana yoga on the way to realization ... Acharya Sadanandaji  (Read 1422 times)


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By Acharya Sadanandaji

Jnaana yoga and Self-realization-II:

There are essentially two yogas or two paths - karma yoga and jnaana yoga says Krishna - lokesmin dvividhaa nishTaa puraa proktaa maya anaghaa| jnaana yogena saankhyaanaam karma yogena yoginaam|| This comes from kriyaa shakti and jnaana shakti as two branches originating from the same source - shaakhayodvayoH shakti muulakam, says Ramana. The two are the path of knowledge for those who are intellectually oriented and the path of action for those who are action-oriented. Of the two, Shankara says by the path of knowledge alone one can realize the highest state, while the path of action can lead to samsaara. However, if karma is done properly, with the attitude of yoga, then the path of action will purify the mind to prepare for jnaana yoga. Thus the path of action is for jnaana yoga yogyataa sidhyartham, na tu vastuupa labhyaye - Karma yoga is meant for qualifying the seeker for jnaana yoga and not for self-realization. Here, bhakti yoga is not specified by Krishna as separate yoga, since bhakti forms the essential ingredient for both karma yoga and jnaana yoga. Karma yoga cannot deliver the goods because it cannot eliminate the root cause for suffering or samsaara, which is ignorance of one's own self, since the karma itself is born out of ignorance of not knowing that I am akartaa and abhoktaa, i.e., I am never a doer nor enjoyer, although all actions and enjoyments take place in my presence.

Any ignorance can only be eliminated by knowledge. Since self-ignorance is the root cause, self-knowledge alone can remove self-ignorance, and not any other knowledge; just as physics ignorance can be removed only by physics knowledge. Hence, one can be knowledgeable in terms of all other subjects; physics, chemistry, meemaamsa, vyaakaraNa, etc.; all are grouped as apara vidyaa or transactional knowledge. The knowledge that which is really countable is the knowledge of the supreme or knowledge of Brahman. All other knowledge is only relative knowledge, useful at the relative or vyaavahaarika level. Hence scripture says brahma vid aapnoti param. Knower of Brahman gains the supreme, the supreme being the highest purushaartha.

Hence, karma yoga is only a preparatory for jnaana joga and once it has done its job, it is important to switch to jnaana yoga. It purifies the mind, which is the necessary instrument for jnaana yoga. Now, the question is when should I switch from karma yoga to jnaana yoga? Bhagavan Krishna himself provides the answer using the example of climbing the horse. As long as I have not climbed the horse and not sat comfortably on the saddle, effort or action is required to do the climbing. However, once I am comfortably sitting on the saddle, all the efforts to climb automatically cease. Does that make any sense to say, I have to renounce the action of climbing the saddle after I sat on the horse? Or the opposite, I should keep climbing after I sat on the saddle? If I keep falling down from the saddle, then I have to keep making efforts to climb again. This process of climbing is over, once I am fully settled on the horse. However, I have to make sure that I am well balanced sitting on the horse with reins in my control and horse is not going to throw me down, and I am in complete control so that I can ride the horse to the destination, assuming that I know where the destination is. Some say, sir, as long as you are a gRihastha, you need to do karma but when you take up sanyaasa you can ride the horse. That is true, if gRihastha means having legs on the ground and not on the horse. Hence effort or actions are required for purification as long as I am not able sit down, study and contemplate on the nature of reality. Therefore, it is not a particular aashrama but the purity of the mind to study the scripture and do the inquiry that determines if my mind is on the ground or on the saddle. Who is going to tell me if I am on the saddle or on the ground? If my mind is still running all over and not able to contemplate in the direction pointed out by scriptures that is a sure sign that I am still trying to climb.

Even after sitting down on the saddle, if I do not know the destination, then I can get lost in the wilderness or go wherever the horse takes me, since I cannot provide the direction for the horse. Hence Krishna uses the word yogaaruuDhaH, that is when I am fully established in the jnaana yoga, karma yoga will be redundant since it has done its job.  At least after climbing, I need to know which direction to proceed. For that scripture itself provides the answer. It does not say go and study the scriptures. Once I recognize that no action or any amount of action will not take me to the destination, the destination being the absolute unconditional inexhaustible happiness that I am seeking in all my actions or pursuits and not able to get it, scripture advises me to approach a teacher who is well versed in the scriptures and who himself is well-established in that knowledge of the self - tat vijnaartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet, samit paaNiH, shrotriyam brahma nishTam. It says approach a teacher ONLY, with an attitude of service. The teacher of the truth has no interest to go to door to door and say please believe in this then you will be saved from eternal hell. One, who follows a belief system, has to recruit more believers into his system, since his strength does not lie on the truth but on beliefs. A physics teacher who knows Newton's laws of mechanics does not have to go door to door to recruit students to believe in the gravitational force. He teaches to those who are keen in learning and approach him with proper qualifications. Hence Krishna himself says - tat viddhi praNipaatena pariprashnena sevayaa| upadeshyanti te jnaanamm jnaaninaH tatvadarshinaH|| Know the truth by approaching a teacher with humility and an attitude of service, and by questioning about the nature of the reality. The teacher is obliged to teach such a student, since he was also in that state before when he approached his teacher. Hence, he teaches because of his obligation to his teacher, which is called aachaarya RiNa. Hence scripture says we need to approach a teacher who knows the subject and knows how to teach too. Shankara says there are three kinds of teachers - 1. One, who knows the truth, knows the scriptures and knows how to teach, 2. One who knows the scriptures and knows how to teach but not fully established in the truth and 3. One who is fully established in the truth but does not know how to teach. The first one is the best if one can find, and second one is the second best. The third one is to be respected but one cannot learn from him. The reason is very simple. Spiritual teaching involves communicating that which cannot be communicated, since it is not an objective science but subjective reality. There is no litmus test to find out whether a person is realized or not. Therefore how am I going to find a realized master?Hence, it is said that only by grace of God one is lead to a proper teacher who can provide the knowledge. It is advisable on my part to assume that my teacher is realized. That way I have a full faith or shraddhaa in the teachings, for me to realize. From my reference, my teacher is a realized master, hence with clear understanding I prostrate to him with full devotion as, Guru brahma guru Vishnu, etc.

All communications involve shabda bodhakam through a medium of language. That is the only way the knowledge can be communicated. Vedanta is shabda pramANa. Hence teaching involves communication between the teacher and the taught. It is not by sparsha or magic touch or by dRik  or compassionate glance or by any other means - if such methods are available Bhagavaan Krishna himself would have used it for Arjuna, instead of the continuous teaching involving 17 chapters or 700 + slokas. Or, he could have just instructed Arjuna to sit in his chariot and inquire "Who am I" silently.  He taught answering every question Arjuna raised until Arjuna declared 'nashTo mohaH', I lost all my delusion, born out of ignorance.  This communication between teacher and the taught is called samvaadaH - where teaching is not a bunch of commandments but delicate and systematic unraveling of the truth, using what Vedanta calls as adhyaaropa apavaadaH. It involves teaching in steps, where the previous steps are negated as one fully climbs and establishes himself in the next level. This is what is discussed in pancakosha prakriya vichaara where each kosha, starting from annamaya, praanamaya, manomaya, vijnaana maya to ananda maya is taken as aatma, and later discarded as anaatma, when one is fully established in the next kosha. Anaatma that was negated is understood as mithyaa and not satya swaruupa aatma, since it is understood as product (kaaryam) and therefore is only naama and ruupa or just name and form, and hence mithyaa, the substantive of which is the satyam that I am. Thus anaatma is resolved into advaita aatma. Shankara provides the steps involved as we discard each kosha as I am not this. In the process of rejecting that the kosha as it is not aatma, the steps outlined are anaatmatva nischayaH, kaarya ruupatva nischayaH, naama ruupatva nischayaH, mithyaatva nischayaH, and pravilaapanam, where the anaatma is recognized as not independent but dependent on aatma. Thus, teaching involves vichaara or inquiry into the nature of reality following the guide lines of Vedanta, as clarified by the teacher. Shankara himself provides the guidelines for vichaara or inquiry discussing the steps involved in the inquiry or vedanta vichaara.  It is an intellectual inquiry only, since there is no other inquiry possible: 'tat vigijnaasaswa' - the truth need to be discovered by inquiry.

It is important here to note that meditation is not a means of knowledge (it is not a pramANa). Some have misconception that all these discussions are only intellectual gymnastics, and it is more important for us to sit down calmly and meditate. Let us understand this clearly.  Only by intellectual discussions using Vedanta as pramaaNa, the knowledge can takes place. There is no other instrument other than the intellect, for knowledge to occur. There is no other means other than Vedanta to communicate the identity relationship involving jiiva-brahma aikyam. Or conversely, any teaching that provides that identity is Vedanta or the ultimate knowledge. Hence Shankara says - na yogena na saakhyena, karmaNaa no na vidyayaa, brahmaatmaikatva bodhena mokshaH sidhyati na anyathaa|| No other means other than the knowledge of the identity of the self with Brahman, or that I am is Brahman that I am longing for, is the means of liberation. Hence knower of Brahman becomes Brahman, brahma vit brahma eva bhavati, since that knowledge involves knowing I am that Brahman and not - this is Brahman. Meditation, then, is only reflecting on the knowledge that has already been gained, so that the knowledge that is gained is internalized, provided of course I know how to meditate and what to meditate on. Hence meditation is not a means of knowledge but it is a means of firmly abiding in the knowledge that has been gained. The knowledge is required FOR meditation and not that I gain knowledge BY meditation.

Hence the Scripture, bearing in mind the nature of the reality and the condition of the student who has preconceived notions about the truth, advises as the requirement for knowledge as shravanam, mananam and nidhidhyaasanam. Shravanam involves study of the scriptures for a prolonged length of time under a competent teacher until it is crystal clear. For that only sanyaasa aashram is recommended since in the gRihastha aashrama, one has no time to devote for consistent systematic study of the scriptures.  What is required is shravanam not the ashrama per se. Shravanam has to be reinforced by mananam or constant reflection on the truth until no more doubts are left. Shravanam or listening to the teaching is the direct means of knowledge, as in the 10th man-story, where the object of inquiry is ever available for immediate knowledge, aparoksha anubhuuti.  Mananam helps to remove any doubts about prameya, about the nature of the truth. Nidhidhyaasana removes the doubts about the pramaata, which we will discuss next.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 09:23:47 AM by Dr. Sadananda »