SureshwarAchAryA On VairAgyA (from Naishkarmya Siddhi lectures by Swami ParamArthAnandA)

Sri Gurubhyo namaha

After pointing out the uselessness of karma as a direct cause to Moksha, SureshwarAchAryA clarifies that Karma with Karma Yoga attitude is indirectly essential for Moksha.  This post is based on Swami ParamArthAnandaji’s lectures on Sri SureshwarachAryA’s Naishkarmya Siddhi. Most words used are verbatim from Swamiji’s talks. Some arrangement and any errors are mine.


[All the Sanskrit are from the text (Naishkarmya Siddhi)]

एष संसारपन्था व्याक्यातः | 

The chain of samsaara has been fully explained by me says the acharya. What is the chain of samsaara ? – avidya (Self-ignorance) -> apurnatvam (self-dissatisfaction) -> kaama (Dependency promoting desire) -> karma (Action) -> paapa/punya.

After this analysis, the AchAryA wants to add an important fact. The criticism of karma is only from the point of view of it being a immediate cause of liberation. The AchAryA now wants to say that if karma is performed for chitta shuddhi (purity of mind), then we only praise karma and promote it. In fact for chitta shuddhi karma is the ONLY way.

अथ इदानीं तद्व्यावृत्तये कर्माणि आरादुपकारत्वेन यथा मोक्षहेतुतां  प्रतिपद्येन्ते तथा अभिधीयन्ते |

Now the utility of karma for the sake of eliminating samsaara is given (अथ इदानीं तद्व्यावृत्तये). Karma is helpful indirectly and therefore becomes a supporting cause for eliminating samsAra. (कर्माणि आरादुपकारत्वेन मोक्षहेतुतां  प्रतिपद्येन्ते). The AchAryA wants to communicate such an idea hereafter (तथा अभिधीयन्ते).

The AchArya says that for a beginner, immediately MahavAkya vichAra (which is the immediate cause for moksha) cannot be prescribed. Instead Karma KAnda is to be introduced. Initially kAmya karma (actions for the sake of satiating self-serving desires) also is to be promoted, with the idea that the individual can go for anything, but should accept the fruits as Ishwara prasAda. This is the beginning of Karma Yoga. At this stage, the individual can be a rAgi-mumukshu (a person who has desire for moksha but still remains emotionally attached to the world). But for being a moksha-adhikAri (one eligible for JnAna KAnda and therefore for Moksha) one has to become a virAgi-mumukshu.

As the person matures (i.e. the desires of the person matures) and begins to desire Moksha, at that time the Veda says – “replace your kAmya karma with nitya-naimittika karma (actions for the sake of Dharma alone, which are not for satiating self-serving desires)”. This is because Moksha-ichcha is alone not enough , but Moksha-adhikAritvam is also required (desire for Moksha alone is not enough , fitness for Moksha also required).

Thus the mumukshu has to continue in karma yoga stage for a long time for acquiring vairaagya and shamAdi-shatka sampattih going through stages, from kAmya karma pradhaana karma yoga to nishkaama karma pradhaana karma yoga (in order to acquire vairaagya to leave attachments to family and other objects).

Therefore the AchAryA says (for the person who has gone through first stage of karma yoga, i.e., kaamya-karma-pradhaana-karma yoga) –

तस्यैवं दुःखतप्तस्य कथंचित् पुन्यशीलनात् | 
नित्य-ईहा-क्षालित-धियो वैराग्यं जायते ह्रदि  | |

Such a person as above who desires moksha but is not a virAgi (one who is still emotionally attached) (तस्यैवं दुःखतप्तस्य), he/she can purify the mind  by the practice of nitya karma (pancha maha yagna with Ishwara-arpaNa praasaada buddhi) (कथंचित् पुन्यशीलनात् , नित्य-ईहा-क्षालित-धियो). By this purification of them mind, vairAgya arises in the mind ( वैराग्यं जायते ह्रदि).

Every mumukshu has some degree of viveka even shamAdi shatka sampattih etc., but vairAgya is most important factor which may be lacking as it is the most difficult one to be gained. One must be ready to lose everything, including one’s own body for the sake of Moksha. Such is the attitude of a Mumukshu with VairAgya. What is the indication of vairAgya? – Worry about one’s family, possessions, and one’s own body becoming lesser and lesser. A mind which possesses such VairAgya indicated by such lack of worry is alone called a SanyAsi mind or a SAdhu mind. Such VairAgyam is gained by the practice of nitya naimittika karma with Karma-yoga  attitude (Ishwara-arpana-prasaada-buddhi).

The AchArya further elaborates –

कीद्र्ग-वैराग्यं उत्पद्यत इति | उच्यते |
The acharya wants to reveal the nature of vairAgyam that will come out of such karma yoga.
नरकाद् भीः यथा अस्य अभूत् तथा काम्यफलादपि | 
यथार्थ-दर्शनात् तस्मात् नित्यं कर्म चिकीर्षति ||

The AchAryA says – “नरकाद् भीः यथा अस्य अभूत् तथा काम्यफलादपि “. Just as the individual develops a “fear” for the effects of paapa karma (hell etc), to the same extent he should develop “fear” for the effects of punya karma also. Thus the AchAryA wants us to develop “fear” for the entire anAtma prapancha (all that which is known to oneself as not-self, i.e., the entire world including all the one’s own body and mind, which are pleasurable and pain-causing to one’s body-mind complex).

A question may arise as to why the AchAryA promotes such a negative attitude with respect to the world. All of our everyday interactions are with anAtma-prapancha only. Is the AchAryA saying we should run away from it? No.What the AchAryA really wants to convey is that one should have the *fear of dependency* on anAtma prapancha, i.e., aasakta-anAtma prapanche bhayam. Fear of anAtma prapancha itself is not being promoted, only fear of dependency. One should be very careful not to depend on any seeming positive or negative aspect of anAtma prapancha. In that case, the anAtma prapancha will become an innocent one and will stop influencing the individual’s decisions.

How is this fear of dependency on anAtma prapancha to be cultivated? The AchAryA says –

“यथार्थ-दर्शनात्” – By correct understanding, which is that “Emotional attachment or dependency on the objects of the world (including one’s own body and mind) are the source of samsaara, emotional detachment and independency from these objects is freedom from samsaara “. One can surely use them, but should not lean on them for emotional support. Such a vairaagya is called para-vairaagya (supreme vairaagya). This is a difficult thing but can be acquired by nishkaama karma yoga.

Therefore the AchAryA says –  नित्यं कर्म चिकीर्षति – one has to perform pancha-maha-yagnaa (nitya karma) with Karma Yoga attitude. He further elaborates.

एवं नित्यनैमित्तिक-कर्म-अनुष्ठानेन |
शुध्यमानं तु तच्चित्त ईश्वरार्पितकर्मभि: |
वैराग्यं ब्रह्मलोकादौ व्यनक्ति अथ सुनिर्मलं || 

In this way, by the performance of nitya-naimittika karmas (pancha maha yagna) with karma yoga attitude for long time (एवं नित्यनैमित्तिक-कर्म-अनुष्ठानेन ईश्वरार्पितकर्मभि:), the mind attains purity  (तच्चित्तं शुध्यमानं तु).

अथ सुनिर्मलं वैराग्यं व्यनक्ति ||
By such performance of nishkAma karma yoga, pure (strength-born) vairaagya is born in the mind. Such VairAgyam is called pure it is based on correct understanding, viveka-shakti, and is not of the nature of “grapes are sour”, not enforced detachment, not repression-born vairAgyam.

ब्रह्मलोकादौ – in all the anAtma-prapancha, including the highest and most enjoyable Loka known as Brahma Loka, such vairAgyam is born. The person does not depend on anything, he is willing to love them but not willing to seek love from them. The person is interested in finding love and care within himself for himself.

One should have two lists – one indicating all those things which one CAN lose, another indicating all those things which I CANNOT lose. The sizes of these two lists is the indicator for spiritual growth, not the number of books that are studied. Attachment is very powerful and one should keep performing karma yoga for as long as it takes, i.e, – the size of the first list grows till to maximum possible extent.

It is to be noted that sanyAsa and vairAgya is the nature of everyone. Everyone discards anything that is not useful to them. We only hold on to things because they make us feel comfortable. VairAgyam is the indicator of emotional strength. One should be able to mentally feel – “I am not dependent on any blessed thing”. Such a person alone is qualified for VedAnta VichArA and therefore Moksha.

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