Acts versus Knowledge
"In this world there is a two fold path; the path of knowledge
"The Vedic dharma (religion) is verily twofold, characterised by
-Sri Shankaracharaya (A.D. 788-820)
From The Bhagavad Gita
Acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be abandoned, but should be performed
; sacrifice, gift and also austerity are the purifiers of the wise.
But even these actions should be performed leaving
Verily the renunciation of obligatory action (acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity) is not proper ; the abandonment of the same from delusion is declared to be Tamasic.
Verily, it is not possible for an embodied being to abandon actions entirely ; but he
who relinquishes the rewards of actions is verily called a man of renunciation.
From the Mahabharata
Addressing his father, Suka said:
Vyasa said: I shall expound to thee the two paths, viz., the destructible and the indestructible, depending respectively upon acts and knowledge.Listen with concentrated attention, O child, to me, as I tell thee the place that is reached by one with the aid of knowledge, and that other place which is reached with the aid of acts. The difference between these two places, is as great as the limitless sky. These are the two paths upon which the Vedas are established; the duties indicated by Pravritti and those based on Nivritti.
One class of persons that are however of little intelligence, applaud acts. In consequence of this they have to assume bodies (one after another) ceaselessly. Those men whose perceptions are keen in respect of duties and who have attained to that high understanding (which leads to knowledge), never applaud acts even as persons that depend for their drinking water upon the supply of streams never applaud wells and water tanks.
The fruit that one obtains of acts consists of pleasure and pain, of existence and non-existence. By knowledge, one attains to that where there is no occasion for grief; where one becomes freed from both birth and death; where one is not subject to decrepitude; where one transcends the state of conscious existence. By knowledge, one attains to Brahman, which is Supreme, Unmanifest, immutable, ever-existent, imperceptible, above the reach of pain, immortal, and transcending destruction; where all become freed from the influence of all pairs of opposites (like pleasure and pain, heat and cold, insults and compliments, happiness and unhappiness etc., where all become freed also of wish or purpose.
Reaching that stage, they cast equal eyes on everything, become universal friends and devoted to the good of all creatures. There is a wide gulf, O son, between one devoted to knowledge and one devoted to acts. Know that the man of knowledge, without undergoing destruction, remains existent forever like the moon on the last day of the dark fortnight existing in a subtle (but undestroyed) form.
As regards the man devoted to acts, his nature may be inferred from beholding the newborn moon, which appears like a bent thread in the firmament (subject to growth and decay). That person of acts takes rebirth with a body with eleven entities for its ingredients, that are the results of modification, and with a subtile form that represents a total of six and ten. The deity who takes refuge in that (material) form, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf, should be known as Kshetrajna (Soul), which is Eternal, and which succeeds by Yoga in transcending both the mind and the knowledge.
[Note: The soul resides in the body without partaking of any of the attributes of the body. It is, therefore, likened to a drop of water on a lotus leaf, which, though on the leaf, is not yet attached to it, in so much that it may go off without at all soaking or drenching any part of the leaf.]
Tamas, Rajas, and Sattwa are the attributes of the knowledge. The knowledge is the
attribute of the individual soul residing within the body. The individual soul, in its
turn, comes from the Supreme Soul. The body with the soul is said to be the attribute of
jiva (embodied soul). It is jiva that acts and cause all bodies to live.
Of knoweldge, there is no end
From The Mahabharata
Brahma (Prajapati) said: All actions end in destruction, and all that is born is
certain to meet with death. Every mobile and immobile thing in this world is transient.
Days end with the sun's setting and Nights with the sun's rising. The end of pleasure is
always sorrow, and the end of sorrow is always pleasure. All accumulations have exhaustion
for their end, and all ascent have falls for their end. All associations have
dissociations for their end, and life has death for its end. Sacrifice, gift, penances,
study, vows, observances, - all these have destruction for their end. Of Knowledge, there
is no end. Hence, one that is possessed of a tranquil soul, that has subjugated his
senses, that is freed from the sense of meum, that is devoid of egoism, is released from
all sins by pure knowledge.
From Vivekachudamani of Shankaracharya
Work leads to purification of the mind,
[Note: Comments by Swami Madhavananda,
Let the wise and erudite man, having commenced the practice of the realisation of the Atman (Self) give up all works and try to cut loose all bonds of birth and death. 10.
[Note: Comments by Swami Madhavananda: "All works" = All works done with
motive, including the good ones prescribed in the scriptures and those that are evil,
which men do prompted by their own nature.]
From The Mahabharata
The Brahmana said: There are three foes in this world. They are said to be ninefold, agreeably to their qualities.
Exultation, satisfaction and joy ;
Cupidity, wrath and hatred ; these three qualities are said to appertain to Passion (Rajas).
Lassitude, procrastination and delusion ; these three qualities appertain to Darkness (Tamas).
Cutting these with showers of arrows, the man of intelligence, free from procrastination, possessed of a tranquil soul, and with his senses under subjection, ventures to vanquish others.
Kshetrajna (Supreme Lord) is eternal and is destitute of qualities as regards its essence. Kshetra (Prakritii or the manifest or matter) is that in which the qualities are produced and absorbed. Hence one who understands duties, casting off qualities and the understanding, and having his sins destroyed, and transcending the qualities, enters the Kshetrajna.
[Note: The realisation of the Self is attained when one transcends or annihilates the
three gunas or qualities (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas). Spirit is devoid of qualities or
attributes; matter is endowed with qualities or attributes. The qualities of Sattwa,Rajas
and Tamas appertain to matter or Maya. Exultation, satisfaction and joy, although these
are Sattwic qualities, are nevertheless qualities or attributes. With the aid of the
Sattwic qualities, one transcends all the qualities and discards all the qualities, as
when an athlete, pole-vaulting with the aid of a long pole, goes over (transcends) to the
other side of the bar, but it is impossible for him to take the long pole with him over
the bar, just so, likened to the pole are the Sattwic qualities which (casting off) have
to be transcended along with the other two qualities of Rajas and Tamas.
Mind is identical with the manifes
From The Mahabharata
The Creator creates with the help of Avidya (Maya or prakriti) this universe. At first springs up that which is called Mahat. That Mahat is speedily transformed into Mind which is the soul of the Manifest
Refer also to the Topic ' The four functions of the mind ' which can
In days of old, king Ambarisha had acquired a tranquil soul. When diverse kinds of
faults were in the ascendant and when the righteous were afflicted, Ambarisha of great
fame put forth his strength for assuming sovereignty. Subduing his own faults and
worshipping the righteous, he attained to great success and sang these verses:
From cupidity arises desires. From desire flows anxiety. The man who yields to desire
acquires many qualities that appertain to passion (Rajas). When these have been acquired,
he gets many qualities that appertain to Darkness (Tamas). In consequence of those
qualities, he repeatedly takes birth, with the bonds of body united, and is impelled to
action. Upon the expiration of life, with body becoming dismembered and scattered, he once
meets with death which is due to birth itself. Hence, duly understanding this, and
subduing cupidity by intelligence, one should desire for sovereignty in one's soul. This
is true sovereignty. There is no other sovereignty here. The soul, properly understood, is
the king. Even these were the verses sung by king Ambarisha of great celebrity, on the
subject of sovereignty which he kept before him; that king who had cut off the one
foremost fault viz., cupidity '.
The Religion ordained for the householder
From the Mahabharata
Maheshwara said: The religion ordained for the householder is said to have Pravritti for its chief indication. Auspicious and beneficial to all creatures, I shall expound it to thee. The householder should always make gifts according to the measure of his power. He should also perform sacrifices frequently after the same manner. Indeed, he who wishes to achieve his own good should always achieve meritorious acts. The householder should acquire wealth by righteous means. The wealth thus acquired should be carefully divided into three portions, keeping the requirements of righteousness in view. With one of those portions he should accomplish all acts of righteousness. With another he should seek to gratify his cravings for pleasure. The third portion he should lay out for increasing. Of all the modes of life, that of the householder is the first. Of this there is no doubt.
Abstention from injury, truthfulness of speech, compassion towards all beings, tranquillity of soul, and the making of gifts to the best of ones power, are the foremost duties of the householder. Abstention from sexual congress with the spouses of other men, protection of the wealth and the woman committed to ones charge, unwillingness to appropriate what is not given to one, and avoidance of honey and meat, - these are the five chief duties. Indeed, Religion or Duty has many branches all of which are fraught with happiness. Even these are the duties which these embodied creatures who regard duty as superior should observe and practice. Even these are the sources of merit.
The conduct of husband and wife should be equal
The conduct of husband and wife, in the case of householder, should be equal. He should every day make offerings of flowers and other articles unto those deities that preside over domesticity. Well cleaned and well rubbed, his house should also be every day fumigated with the smoke of Homa (ghee or clarified butter poured on his sacred fire in honour of the deities and the Pitris or ancestors). [Related articles "MantrasSacred fire" See column on the left]. Even these are the duties appertaining to the householders mode of life as observable by a regenerate person. Those duties really uphold the world.
Householders of pure mind are capable of earning very great merit. Indeed, he who cleanses his soul by the performance of the five sacrifices (yajnas; the five yajnas or sacrifices are Deva yajna, Rishi yajna, Manushya yajna, Pitri yajna, and Bhuta yajna).
Related articles "Mantras-Sacred Fire" topic 'Sacrifice'
He who is truthful in speech, who is free from malice, who makes gifts, who treats with hospitality and honour all regenerate [Note:Regenerate is twice-born (Dwija):mother gives physical or genetic birth; teacher gives spiritual birth] guests, who lives in well cleansed abodes, who is free from pride, who is always sincere in his dealings, who uses sweet and assuring words towards others, who takes pleasure in serving guests and others arrived at his abode, and who eats the food that remains after the requirements have been gratified of all the members of his family and dependants, wins great merit.
That householder who rises at dawn, and serves food to his guests, and having honoured them duly bids them farewell by following them (as mark of honour) for a little distance, acquires eternal merit. Hospitality towards all, and the pursuit of the aggregate of the three (Religion, Wealth and Pleasure), are the duties of the householder.
(The religion of Nivritti is different. It exists for emancipation from re-birth by absorption into God).