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Re: superstitions

Jaldhar Vyas (jvyas@ritz.mordor.com) wrote:

: No.  Karma yoga simply means performing your duty without desire for 
: results.  It is the action that counts, not the result or the devotion.

: Love of God can encourage you to be more diligent in your duties but it 
: isn't neccessary. 

This is a totally atheistic view. The latter statement in particular is
something I all too often find being pushed forward by impersonalists. 

The entire third chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita explains what karma yoga
is. Since the Gita should be the ultimate authority on Vedic philosophy
(as opposed to all sorts of manufactured opinions put forward by 
self-styled philosophers in Kali Yuga), let us take a look at what it has
to say.

>From _Bhagavad Gita As It Is_ by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta 
Swami Prabhupaada:

"Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction,
nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection."

"Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has
acquired from the modes of nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing
something, not even for a moment."

"One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense
objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender."

"On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses
by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Krishna consciousness] without
attachment, he is by far superior."

"Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One
cannot even maintain one's physical body without work."

"Work done as a sacrifice for Vishnu has to be performed; otherwise work
causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform
your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always
remain free from bondage."

These verses clearly declare what karma yoga is and why it should be performed.
Verses 3.5 - 3.6 explain why we can't all become instant sannyasins. Because
we are under the influence of the modes of nature, we can't simply renounce
everything and expect to become sannyasins. This is what Arjuna wanted to
do in order to escape his duty, but Lord Krishna explains to him that it is
better for him to stay and fight the battle in Krishna-consciousness. One
should always perform one's prescribed duty, and one should do it in
Krishna-consciousness. Verse 3.10 especially confirms what I have been trying
to explain to Jaladhar Vyas. Karma yoga is not simply about "doing your
job well." It is about performing your duties as a sacrifice to God. Only
in this way can one perform normal duties without becoming contaminated
by sin. 

: > You are of course, referring to the Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Vedas. 
: > Remember that these texts are primarily for people at lower levels of
: > spiritual realization 

: It is interesting that you are using an argument popularised by Vivekananda!
: Certainly no orthodox teacher would ever make such a nastika suggestion.

Perhaps you should not take my comments out of context. I was trying to
point out that these texts (well, the Karma Kaanda part, anyway) contain
primarily various sacrifices to the demigods for regulation of material
activities that is supposed to eventually lead to Krishna-consciousness. 
Surely you do not expect me to believe that we should all start performing
asva-medha and other animal sacrifices simply because they are contained
in the Vedas?? These sacrifices are prescribed for specific classes of
people (in the later case, for meat-eaters). Thus, it is not enough to
simply study the sacrifices. Someone who is learned in Vedic philosophy
should also be fluent in Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, which are
the culmination of all Vedic philosophy (and yes, they are considered
to be part of the Vedic literature).

: According to the Mimamsakas, who are the authority on these matters, the 
: Vedic rituals are of three kinds.  Nitya ("daily" such as bathing etc.) 
: Naimittika("occasional" such as marriage or Diwali etc.) and Kamya ("for 
: pleasure" such as praying for a son etc.)  Only the the third kind can 
: possibly be considered materialistic.  One who performs the first two 
: kinds only commits no sin.

All these are for regulating material activities. This does not
contradict what I said. These rituals are also prescribed so that one
can perform them as sacrifice.

: Whether you find something offensive or not is irrelevant.  The shastras 
: declare that Bhakti is recommended for the people of the Kali yuga 
: because they are ignorant and weak.  

Please provide a verse citation. Don't advance your own opinions.

: Which proves nothing.  It is possible to attain moksha without Krshna who 
: is only one of the saguna forms of Brahman.

Perhaps you need another dose of the scriptures:

"Arjuna inquired: Which are considered to be more perfect, those who are
always properly engaged in Your devotional service or those who worship
the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?"

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on
My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and
transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect."

"But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond
the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, unchanging,
fixed and immovable--the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth - by
controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such
persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me."

"For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature
of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that
discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied."

These verses declare that the goal of the devotees and the goal of
the impersonalists is one and the same -- Lord Krishna. However, those
who consider Brahman to be Supreme, according to 12.4, have great difficulty
in achieving Krishna. Therefore, this indicates that we should worship 
Lord Krishna's personal form, believing in Him as supreme, and not
mess around with Advaita nonsense, which holds that the impersonal aspect
is superior.

: Or from the Vedas, or the Vedangas, or the Upavedas,  or the Mahabharata or 
: the Ramayana or the Puranas or the Dharmashastras.  I do not deny that 
: God can be personal.  The trouble is that while some shastras proclaim 
: that Vishnu is supreme, others proclaim the glories of Shiva or Devi or 
: Ganesh.  If the Personal aspect of God is all their is, some of the 
: shastras contradict each other.  The Bhagavat is only one of 18 puranas.  
: The Gita is only one small part of the Mahabharata.  One has to look at 
: the whole picture rather than small pieces.

The idea that the scriptures are inconsistent is atheistic in origin. For 
your information, I was considering "the big picture," which is Lord Krishna.
But if you don't believe me, here is more of our treasured Vedic philosophy
to stomp on your inconsistency theory.

CC, Madhya-lila, ch. 20:            
                               TEXT 145
            vyamohaya caracarasya jagatas te te puranagamas
         tam tam eva hi devatam paramikam jalpantu kalpavadhi
         siddhante punar eka eva bhagavan visnuh samastagama-
            vyaparesu vivecana-vyatikaram nitesu nisciyate
          " `There are many types of Vedic Iiteratures and
     supplementary Puranas. In each of them there are particular
     demigods who are spoken of as the chief demigods. This is
     just to create an illusion for moving and nonmoving living
     entities. Let them perpetually engage in such imaginations.
     However, when one analytically studies all these Vedic
     literatures collectively, he comes to the conclusion that
     Lord Visnu is the one and only Supreme Personality of

                               TEXT 146
             mukhya-gauna-vrtti, kimva anva ya- vyatireke
                 vedera pratijna kevala kahaye krsnake
          "When one accepts Vedic literature by interpretation or even
          by dictionary meaning, directly or indirectly the ultimate
          declaration of Vedic knowledge points to Lord Krsna.
                             TEXT 147-148
                        kim vidhatte kim acaste
                         kim anudya vikalpayet
                         ity asya hrdayam loke
                        nanyo mad veda kascana
                      mam vidhatte'bhidhatte mam
                        vikalpyapohyate hy aham
                        etavan sarva-vedarthah
                       sabda asthaya mam bhidam
                         maya-matram anudyante
                         pratisidhya prasidati

          " `What is the direction of all Vedic literatures? On
     whom do they set focus? Who is the purpose of all
     speculation? Outside of Me no one knows these things. Now
     you should know that all these activities are aimed at
     ordaining and setting forth Me. The purpose of Vedic
     literature is to know Me by different speculations, either
     by indirect understanding or by dictionary understanding.
     Everyone is speculating about Me. The essence of all Vedic
     literatures is to distinguish Me from maya. By considering
     the illusory energy, one comes to the platform of
     understanding Me. In this way one becomes free from
     speculation about the Vedas and comes to Me as the
     conclusion. Thus one is satisfied.'
          These two verses are quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam
     (11.21.42,43). When Uddhava asked Krsna about the purpose of
     Vedic speculation, the Lord informed him of the process of
     understanding Vedic literature. The Vedas are composed of
     karma-kanda, jnana-kanda and upasana-kanda. If one
     analytically studies the purpose of the Vedas, he
     understands that by karma-kanda, sacrificial activity, one
     comes to the conclusion of jnana-kanda, speculative
     knowledge. After speculation, one comes to the conclusion
     that worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the
     ultimate. When one comes to this conclusion, he becomes
     fully satisfied.

Enough said. The supreme truth is Lord Krishna, and the Vedic literature,
though it may *seem* inconsistent, is meant for realizing Krishna by
various paths and demigods. Note that the translations point to Krishna
as the goal, not Brahman.

: And where do you get off expressing ideas in conflict with the other 
: puranas?  (Which were also written by Veda Vyas.)

I have supported my arguments with verses from the scriptures. Imagine
my audacity! 

: > In the Gita, Krishna very clearly tells Arjuna "Worship Me, Be completely
: > absorbed in Me, and then you will reach my abode." (paraphrase, I don't have
: > my Gita with me, but I can look up the exact verse later if you want) He 
: > doesn't tell Arjuna that devotion will get him to merge into impersonal 
: > Brahman. 
: > 

: That's because devotion won't get him to merge with the impersonal 
: Brahman.  Only Jnana can do that.

See 12.1 - 12.4 as written above. Lord Krishna says that He is the ultimate
goal of the bhaktas AND the impersonalists. Bhakti leads to jnana, which
in turn leads to Krishna. When one has achieved Krishna's abode, he continues
to render transcendental devotional service. This is confirmed by 18.54:

"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman 
and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is
equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure
devotional service unto Me.

Can it get any clearer than this?

: >Even Lord Krishna, the
: > Supreme God confirms this in the Gita. Why would you want any other opinion
: > than God's opinion?
: > 

: In Gita 12:4, he says that the path of those who are not bhaktas is 
: much harder than bhakti.  He doesn't say it is impossible.

Why would you want to pick the more difficult of two paths?

Hari bol,

-- Krishna

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