Just as the Vedas declare that knowledge is the means for attaining the ultimate goal, with the same emphasis the Vedas also prescribe karmas. Moreover, the karmas prescribed are compulsory for a living being. Therefore, these karmas can be complementary to the path of knowledge.
In order to derive home the conviction to the student, Rama here repeats the arguments of others and answers them himself.
The ritualists argue that not only the path of contemplation is prescribed by the Vedas, but that the very same Veda has commanded that karma should be done. Thus, Veda-prescribed karmas must be undertaken along with the practice of contemplation for the final liberation. The argument has legs, because the Veda has an unquestioned authority in spiritual matters.
The scriptures have even cautioned that by not doing karma one will incur sin; therefore, the prescribed karma. In case you insist that the path of knowledge is independent and quite efficient in achieving the goal by itself and needs no karma – not even in a dream – then ... [the argument continues in the next verse].
The opponents continue their arguments. In their eloquence they are not able to stop the flood of their words. If karmas is not done, the default can bring sin and consequent punishment. Not only by commission but also by omission sin can be incurred. Thus the argument that the jnana path needs no karma to complement it is a dangerous lie.
These are the words of the Samuccaya Vadins, repeated here by Sri Ramacandra. The teacher in Sri Rama wants his disciple Laksmana to know about the existence of such an argument.
na satyakaryo‘pi hi yadvadadhvarah prakanksate‘nyanapi karakadikan tathaiva vidya vidhitah prakasitair-visisyate karmabhireva muktaye.
It is not so. Just as the Vedic rituals, though meritorious in their results, depend upon many accessories such as the doer, and so on, so too the path of knowledge becomes capable of giving liberation with the help of those karmas that are revealed by the Vedic statements.
The Vedas describe rituals very elaborately, and eloquently promise rewards for those who follow the strict discipline the rituals require, performing them properly at the right time and place, using the right materials and mantras.
Those who support the integral path (Samuccaya Vadins) argue that just as we need many accessories to perform karma properly, so also those who pursue the path of contemplation need the support of the path of karma. Each blesses the other, and the seeker gains his goal.
In these three verses the arguments of the Samuccaya Vadins are vigorously paraded. According to them, contemplation and karma must be pursued together. When each strengthens the other, we have a sure means for our personality liberation. The path of knowledge (jnana) is not independent : jnana will fruitfully lead us to the state of spiritual freedom only in combination with karma. These are the arguments of the Samucaya Vadins.
kecidvadantiti vitarkavadina – stadapyasaddrstavirodhakaranat dehabhimanadabhivardhate kriya vidya gatahankrtitah prasidhyati.
So argue some men of erroneous logic; but that, indeed, is false because of the obvious contradiction. Action is performed (increases) due to identification with the body, whereas Knowledge is realized at the elimination of the ego, that is, of body identification.
Sri Ramacandra, having summarized the arguments of the Samuccaya Vadins, answers them all. With one powerful word he smashes down their array of arguments: he declares their stand as a mere delusion, and then supports his conclusion by showing the inherent weakness in their elaborate arguments.
Karma is performed by the ego with noble, not-sonoble, or stark-selfish desires. The ego asserts itself in all karmas. The ego is the doer-experiencer entity in each one of us.
Jnana, the path of contemplation, starts when the ego is curbed; in the final stage of the path, the ego disappears totally as we glide into the state of pure Consciousness, the Self. Movement into the state of Self-Awareness is not possible unless we leave the ego of the previous state. The dreamer-ego can never perceive or enter the waking state. The waker-ego must end in sleep. The waker-dreamer-sleeper ego must cease to be when we realize the Self.
Therefore, to claim that karma and jnana are to be pursued at one and the same time is a misconception. In the path of karma, the ego must play, while in the path of knowledge, the ego must disappear.
These opposed conditions exist in the very working of these two paths. Through karma we gain inner purity, and such a purified mind gains its necessary poise in contemplation. The process of contemplation purifies the mind more and more. The quieter the mind, the more intense becomes the contemplation; the higher the intensity and steadiness of contemplation, the quieter becomes the mind.
In this cycle, a state should come when the mind is totally quiet. Thoughtless mind is Brahman, the absolute Self. Karma and Jnana can never be practiced together; they must be taken serially. First, perform karma as a sadhana, then follow the path of contemplation. After realization, again perform karma as a selfless expression of the siddha, a man of wisdom.
visuddhavijnanavirocanancita vidyatmavrttiscarameti bhanyate udeti karmakhilakarakadibhir – nihanti vidyakhilakarakadikam
The exclusive thought of the Self, arrived at through comtemplation with a purified heart, is called knowledge (vidya). Karma rises from its various (five) causes, while vidya demolishes all these instruments of karma.
Sri Ramacandra clearly defines what is meant by the term “knowledge. ”vidya. As a result of exhaustive pondering upon the deep significance of mahavakyas (great spiritual statements) such as “That thou art.” the student’s mind, in deep contemplation, comes to dwell upon the thought of the Self, exclusive of all other thoughts. This thought of the Self dies away by itself on realizing the state of the Self.
Just as fire, having consumed the fuel, disappears into its unmanifest or, just as the dreamer and his world of dream merge and disappear upon awakening, so too the ego, as our sense of individuality (ahamkara vrtti), disappears into the experience of the supreme state, Brahmasaksatkra. I and my sole desire to sleep disappear when I enter the deep-sleep state. The “dreamer-I” and my dream world dissolve and disappear into the “waker-I” upon awakening.
Karma and jnana cannot be lived at one and the same time because of their opposite natures. Karma springs from its unavoidable five essential factors:
- the body, which is the basis of actions;
- doership and enjoyership together called the individual;
- the instruments, the sense organs;
- the various functions in the body; and
- the presiding deities of the sense organs,
which are the conditions necessary for each sense organ to function efficiently. The path of knowledge has its destination in direct apprehension (jnana), wherein all these factors and the sense of doership end.
Thus, because of their essentially contrary natures, karma and jnana can never be practiced at one and the same time by the same seeker – as the Samuccaya Vadins recommend and fanatically argue to prove their viewpoint.
In this verse, Sri Rama applies an axe to the very root of all the arguments of those who recommend integral yoga. We can pursue a variety of karmayogas – service of the people, prayer, worship, and so on. But work and contemplation cannot be pursued at one and the same time. In karma, the mind is active and turned outward into the field work, while in contemplation, the mind’s attention is turned away from the outer world, and the mind is exclusively engaged with thoughts of the nature of the Self, seeking to realize the total identity of “I” (ego) with the divine Self.
tasmattyajektaryamasesatah sudhir – vidyavirodhanna samuccayou bhavet atmanusandhanaparayanah sada nivttasarvendriyavrttigocarah.
Therefore, let the pure-hearted learn to drop all activities; as activities are contrary to knowledge, their combination with knowledge is not possible. Quieting all activities of the senses and mind perceptions, one should always be engaged in contemplation upon the Self.
Since Samuccaya is not possible, let the one who has purified his heart through selfless, noble work, learn to drop all activities of the sense organs and the mind. The body-mind-intellect equipment gushing out into objects-emotions-thoughts to possess, embrace, and enjoy them constitutes all our physical and mental activities. We must withdraw all our attention from this childish preoccupation with the world of plurality; we must cease from all activities. This is a precondition before we can hope to be successful in contemplation. Since karma and jnana cannot be practiced together as they are contradictory to each other, having purified our inner equipment, let us stop work and dive into contemplation – a state where we are exclusively alert to the knowledge of what lies behind the mind, at the very foundation of our personality.
Nobody can give up work totally. Work is the signature of life in the individual. But the Gita explains that when we work “without anxiety for enjoying the result of work” (that is, without desire or an ego-sense), our work is “not-work.” When the desire to enjoy the rewards of work is eliminated, our minds gather a unique poise, and in this inner peace, steady contemplation becomes easy and extremely enjoyable.
This is not a free sanction to give up work altogether. Having awakened to the Self, then give up work, says the Gita. As long as body-consciousness is with us, we must keep on doing the prescribed noble work – but without the desire to enjoy its rewards.
Train yourself to turn your entire attention to contemplation upon the nature of the Self, until you realize the absolute identity of the ego-sense in you with the supreme Self. First, do selfless service of the society (karma), then worship the Lord (upasana). Through these, when the mind gets purified, it detaches itself from all pursuits of sense objects and from all sensuous thoughts (visaya cintana). Such a mind alone can steadily contemplate upon the Self (brahma cintana). Once you experience the joy arising out of a quiet, alert, and vigilant mind, you will never stop your contemplation sessions. They are always so rewarding, so full, so very fulfilling.
vavacchariradisu mayayatmadhi - stavadvidheyo vidhivadakarmanam netiti vakyairakhilam nisidhya ta - jjnatva paratmanamatha tyajetkriyah.
As long as one identifies with one’s body as a result of the play of Maya, so long one must perform the scared work prescribed by the Vedas. Thereafter, with the help of the sruti declaration of negation -”not this, not this”-one must learn to rise above one’s body identity and realize the Self-and then give up all work.
The earlier verse that daringly asserted that “all work should be renounced, ”though very logically arrived at, can shock the seeker and undermine his faith. This is suicidal for the seeker’s spiritual life. Hence, in this verse, Sri Rama, with endless patience, explains what he meant by his apparently cruel rejection of all that the culture had been insisting on and the seeker had been practicing perhaps for many years now.
As long as you have the “I am the body” Feeling, as long as the delusory misapprehension that “I am the body ”persist, so long perform selfless, devoted works as prescribed in the scriptures. The ”I do ”Mentality is the ego (ahamkara). When as a result of following spiritual disciplines the ego and its desire promptings have thinned out, then start contemplation. Learn to rise above that which you are not, indicated so vividly in the Upanisads by the words of negation: ”Not this, not this ”(neti neti). When you have arrived at pure Consciousness, when the Self is realized, then all work becomes meaningless, empty, and purposeless.
Having woken up from a dream, what duty have you toward your dream family? Once you reach sleep, how can the sleeper continue the effort of the waker, who was then but trying to compose himself to sleep.
All work ceases when the ego -I wakes up to the “I am the Self awareness. When a river reaches the ocean, its flow ends as it merges to become the ocean.
Non apprehension of the true nature of the Self created in you the misapprehension that you are a limited helpless, and tearful individual. Your non-apprehension of Reality (avarana) and the consequent misapprehensions (viksepa) are together called delusion (Maya). On apprehending the Self (jnana), all your misapprehensions (ajana) end. On realizing this grand goal, in that state of Self, no work is possible, no work is possible, no work is required. It is not really a question of your renouncing all activities -all activities simply slip off from you!