Theni: MAY 31 – JUNE 1, 2012

On the Philosophy of Advaita at Vedapuri Ashram

After staying in the city of Madurai for ten days, Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived at Theni on the evening of May 31. The Jagadguru was offered a reverential Poornakumbha welcome at the entrance of Sri Vedapuri Ashram by Swami Omkarananda. Swami Parmarthananda (Vedanta teacher and Vidyaguru of Swami Omkarananda) from Chennai, Swami Satswarupananda and Swami Nithyananda Giri from Tirukovilur also joined in the welcome. The Jagadguru was taken around the Ashram in a procession on a special vehicle decorated as a swan.

In his Swagata Bhashanam, Swami Omkarananda said that He had the Darshan of both Sri Sri Mahasannidhanam and Sri Sri Sannidhanam in His Poorvashrama. He remembered that the Jagadguru had graced the fledgling Ashram on 22nd March 1995 and had said that all welfare will come to him and the Ashram, as he was spreading the message of Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada. Swamiji also pointed the truth in the Jagadguru’s blessings when he remembered that the Jagadguru had planted a Vata Vriksha (banyan tree) inside the Ashram chanting the Rik, “स्योना पृथिवि भवानृक्षरा निवेशनी । यच्छा नः शर्म सप्रथाः” and had blessed that as the Vata Vriksha grows, the message of Vedanta would spread and the Ashram would grow. Recalling the Vedic prayer, “सकृत्ते अग्ने नमः । द्विस्ते नमः । त्रिस्ते नमः । चतुस्ते नमः । पञ्चकृत्वस्ते नमः । दशकृत्वस्ते नमः । शतकृत्वस्ते नमः । आसहस्रकृत्वस्ते नमः । अपरिमितकृत्वस्ते नमः ।” ,the Swamiji offered his innumerable prostrations to the Jagadguru.

In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that Lord Paramashiva incarnated in Kalady as Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada, expounded the Advaita Siddhanta to the masses and brought about the welfare of the masses. The Jagadguru clarified that Advaita Siddhanta did not originate from Sri Adi Shankaracharya. It has been stated in the Vedas. Sri Adi Shankaracharya expounded it but did not postulate it. Sri Gaudapada Himself has said – मायामात्रमिदं द्वैतम् अद्वैतं परमार्थतः.

The Vedas declare in many places the Mithyatva of Dvaita. However, Dvaita is accepted from the Vyaavahaarika (empirical) standpoint. We only reject Dvaita from the Paaramaarthika (absolute) standpoint. This is where Dvaitins raise objections against Advaita and ask questions such as, “How do you associate Mithyatva to everything? Are you Mithya? Is what you say Mithya? Are the Vedas Mithya? Am I Mithya?” The Jagadguru explained that we accept the Vyaavahaarika Satyam (empirical reality) of everything – of you, of the Vedas, of the Karmas enjoined therein and so on. We only state that the Paaramaarthika Satyam (Supreme Absolute Reality) is only one.

As long as Brahma Jnana has not dawned, Karma has to be performed. There can be no second thoughts about this as Sri Bhagavatpada Himself states – वेदो नित्यमधीयताम् तदुदितं कर्म स्वनुष्ठीयताम् । तेनेशस्य विधीयतामपचितिः काम्ये मतिस्त्यज्यताम् ॥ – that the Vedas are to be studied daily and the Vedic Karmas are to be observed with Shraddha. The Lord too states in the Gita that Karmas performed without Shraddha do not yield any result –

अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं च यत् ।
असदित्युच्यते पार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्य नो इह ॥

The Jagadguru remembered how Aryamba expressed to her husband, Shivaguru, that their worshipping the Lord for the sake of an offspring had to be further intensified with greater Shraddha. Ultimately, the Lord Himself incarnated as their son in the form of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

The Jagadguru emphasized that only for one who has attained Brahma Jnana, the Vedic injunctions do not hold – निस्त्रेगुण्ये पथि विचरतां को विधिः को निषेधः. We are far away from that state. Even the scholarship of scholars and Mahamahopadhyayas and their ability to quote the scriptures and explain the nuances of the Shastras, are for merely their livelihood and not for Mukti –

वाग्वैखरी शब्दझरी शास्त्रव्याख्यानकौशलम् ।
वैदुष्यं विदुषां तद्वत् भुक्तये न तु मुक्तये ॥

They have not been able to directly experience the Supreme Blissful state. However they are not to be blamed, for that state can be attained only on the cessation of tendencies (Vasanas) accumulated over a number of lifetimes. The Lord has stated in the Gita – अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम् । Hence until we directly experience the Supreme State, the Karmas enjoined in the Shastras have to be performed.

The Jagadguru then explained why Vedanta disagrees that the performance of such Karmas alone results in Mukti. Mukti refers to the state wherein you can have no more births, for one takes birth only to experience the fruits of his Karma. The Karma referred to here has to be either Kaamya Kamya or Nishiddha Karma, for Kaamya Karma leads one to Svarga while Nishiddha Karma leads one to hell. The Mimamsaka argues that a person desirous of liberation avoid all Kamya and Nishiddha Karma, and instead only perform Nitya and Naimittika Karmas, as the avoidance of these two types of Karma leads to sin. Hence the Mimamsaka’s standpoint is that when a person can get Mukti by performing only the Nitya and Naimittika Karmas and avoiding Kaamya and Nishiddha Karmas, why is Jnana necessary for Mukti –

मोक्षार्थी न प्रवर्तेत तत्र काम्यनिषिद्धयोः ।
नित्यनैमित्तिके कुर्यात् प्रत्यवायजिहासया ॥

Bhagavatpada has pointed out the fallacy in this line of thinking – न हि जन्मप्रायणोरन्तराले काम्यप्रतिषिद्धयोः सर्वात्मना वर्जनं केनचित्प्रतिज्ञातुं शक्यं, सुनिपुणानामपि सूक्ष्मापराधदर्शनात् । It is not possible for anyone to proclaim that he has refrained from all Kaamya Karma and Nishiddha Karma from the time of his birth to the time of his death. This is because it is seen that even the best of men commit subtle mistakes. The Manu Smriti says the observance of Pancha Mahayajnas is necessary for a Grihastha (householder) as he commits 5 types of sins without his knowledge.

पञ्चसूना गृहस्थस्य चुल्ली पेषण्युपस्करः ।
कण्डनी चोदकुम्भश्च बध्यते यास्तु वाहयन् ॥

A sin remains a sin whether you commit it knowingly or unknowingly. If you touch fire, it is going to burn your hand. It does not matter whether the one who touches fire is a child or an adult, or does it knowingly or unknowingly – अनिच्छयापि संस्पृष्टो दहत्येव हि पावकः. Hence it is impossible to state that one has never sinned.

Moreover, this human body has been acquired because of a portion of all the accumulated Punya and Paapa karmas. There is however a lot more Karma to experience. One cannot dismiss that all the accumulated Karma has resulted in our acquisition of this human body.

Contrastingly, the Karmas of a person who has attained Jnana, are burnt up for the Vedas, the Supreme authority on these matters, clearly state so. The result of the good deeds of a Jnani reach those who revere the Jnani, while the results of his sins go to those who insult him.

Sri Bhagavatpada has stated in His Upadesha Panchakam that such Jnana that can burn one’s Karmas, can be had only by approaching a Guru –

“सद्विद्वानुपसृप्यतां प्रतिदिनं तत्पादुके सेव्यतां, ब्रह्मैकाक्षरमर्थ्यताम्”

The Upanishads are filled with illustrations of disciples seeking the Guru – such as the six students approaching Pippalada, Shaunaka seeking Angirasa – for acquiring Brahma Jnana. As a result of the attainment, the Bhashyakara (Sri Adi Shankaracharya) too has said Karmas are burnt up – प्राक्कर्मप्रविलाप्यतां चितिबलान्नाप्युत्तरैः श्लिष्यताम्

Bhagavan Veda Vyasa too has stated in His Brahma Sutras – तदधिगम उत्तरपूर्वाघयोरश्लेषविनाशौ तद्व्यपदेशात् – that on attainment of Jnana, all Karmas are burnt up.

The Lord too has said in the Bhagavad Gita –

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन ।
ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ॥
As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes (all reactions to) Karmas

Thus the Vedas, the Brahma Sutras and the Gita make it clear that Jnana alone burns Karma and results in liberation.

The Jagadguru also pointed out many attend lectures on Vedanta but do so only for leisure and not with the desire for Jnana. One must perform Nishkama Karma (actions without desire for results) if one has to get intense “विविदिषा” (desire to know the Truth). Thus Sri Adi Shankaracharya has explained that Upasana and Karma have an important role to play in the system of Advaita Siddhanta. Hence must always have reverence and devotion towards Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

The Jagadguru stated that such is the sophistication of the Advaita philosophy propounded by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, that even though many objections were raised against it (in the later centuries), personages such as Sri Madhusoodana Saraswati and Sri Brahmananda Saraswati uprooted all such objections by their works –

मधुसूदनसन्मौनीब्रह्मानन्दगुरू भजे ।
अद्वैतराजमार्गोऽयं याभ्यां निष्कण्टकीकृतः ॥
Salutations to Sri Madhusoodana Saraswati and Sri Brahmananda Saraswati who made the regal path of Advaita thorn-free

The Jagadguru ended His Anugraha Bhashanam expressing joy over the work being carried out by Swami Omkarananda in the propagation of the tenets of the Advaita Siddhanta. Swami Omkarananda then received the special blessings of the Jagadguru. The Jagadguru later performed the Sharada Chandramoulishwara Puja in the Ashram premises.

At 6:30 AM on 1st June, the Jagadguru performed Puja to Sri Prajna Dakshinamurti. At 10 AM, the Jagadguru visited the now huge Vata Vriksha that He had planted 17 years ago. After a small Puja was offered at the spot, the Jagadguru laid the foundation stone for the building, Sri Bharati Tirtha Vidyarthi VilasaH and visited Sri Rajagopala Mandiram, the Goshala of the Ashram. The Jagadguru then returned to the Prajna Dakshinamurti temple, gave Darshan to the devotees and blessed the members who had undergone a course on Bhagavad Gita. Devotees performed Bhiksha Vandanam and Pada Puja to the Jagadguru and received Mantrakshata.


Anugraha Bhashanam at Theni