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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The ācāryas on immature bhajan

The commentaries on the Gītā's 'hypocrite'-verse (3.6) give a fascinating description of what can go wrong when one immaturely takes sannyāsa and starts / continues making a show of meditation. In our sampradāya one cannot help but think of immature persons who, either out of naive idealism or for material benefits, settle full-time in a holy place like Rādhākund to start 'meditating'. The Gītā-verse itself runs as follows:

karmendriyāṇi saṁyamya ya āste manasā smaran
indriyārthān vimūḍhātmā mithyācāraḥ sa ucyate

'He who controls his active senses but whose mind dwells on sensual objects and is bewildered by them, is called a hypocrite."

Let us first relish Sridhara Swami's comments:

ato’jnaṁ karma-tyāginaṁ nindati karmendriyāṇīti vāk-pāṇy-ādīni karmendriyāṇi 

"The Lord here criticizes the ignorant who give up activities and control the active senses like the speech and hands."

saṁyamya bhagavad-dhyāna-cchalena indriyārthān viṣayān smarann āste 

'Controlling the senses means here: Making a show of meditating on the Lord while remembering sensual things.'

aviśuddhatayā manasā ātmani sthairyābhāvāt

'His impurity is caused by unsteadiness of the mind' (When the mind is not peaceful one will become active in the wrong way, A.d.)

sa mithyācāraḥ kapaṭācāro dāmbhika ucyata ity arthaḥ

"He is called a hypocrite or fraudster."

Madhusudan Saraswati comments in his tika:

yathā-kathancid autsukya-mātreṇa kṛta-sannyāsas tv aśuddha-cittas tat-phala-bhāṅ na bhavati yataḥ

"Simply due to some enthusiasm one takes sannyāsa with an impure mind. This will not yield the desired fruits."

yo vimūḍhātmā rāga-dveṣādi-dūṣitāntaḥ-karaṇa autsukya-mātreṇa karmendriyāṇi vāk-pāṇy-ādīni saṁyamya nigṛhya bahir-indriyaiḥ karmāṇy akurvann iti yāvat

"This verse speaks of the bewildered soul whose psyche is polluted by attachment and repulsion and simply out of some enthusiasm controls his external senses like speech and hands, not performing any external action."

manasā rāgādi-preritendriyārthān śabdādīn na tv ātma-tattvaḥ smarann āste 

"His minds remembers things, like sounds etc., he is attached or averse to, instead of remembering spiritual things." (The word 'sounds' is funny - it reminds me of all the agitation caused in the mind by the blasting loud all-night Bollywood Music in the holy places nowadays. I do know real saints, including Sādhu Bābā, though, who were / are completely undisturbed by that).

kṛta-sannyāso’ham ity abhimānena karma-śūnyas tiṣṭhati sa mithyācāraḥ sattva-śuddhy-abhāvena phalāyogyatvāt pāpācāra ucyate

He proudly thinks/says 'I have taken sannyāsa' and remains devoid of external activity, but he is a hypocrite. Because of a lack of viśuddha sattva he is unqualified for attaining the results of his activities and thus is called a sinner."

tvaṁ-padārtha-vivekāya sannyāsaḥ sarva-karmaṇām
 śrutyeha vihito yasmāt tat-tyāgī patito bhavet ity ādi-dharma-śāstreṇa 

Śrīpād Madhusūdan then quotes the Dharma Śāstra: "To attain the Supreme one must renounce all activities (sannyāsa). This is what the Śrutis command. Whoever gives this up is considered fallen."


  1. "The tikas of the Gita's 'hypocrite'-verse (3.6) give a fascinating description of what can go wrong when one immaturely takes sannyasa and starts / continues making a show of meditation."

    What I find even more ummm...interesting (to use a rather mild term) is that taking sannyasa is understood an equivalent to liberation (sorry, cant remember now where I read this).

    While that may as well be true (for some), any kind of material label or ritual can not possibly produce spiritual results, and liberation or release as Vedanta sutra puts it, really comes only when ahankara, false ego, is permanently removed (by Vidya, or direct darshana of Hari, according to VS).

    Perhaps here we can find the reason why individuals that take sannyasa don't really live up to it: they are still very much entangled in material conceptions of "I" and "Mine", despite of their 'highest' status in human society.

    I have seen this many times, humans usually look upon ourselves as much more advanced than we really are.

    And there is a huge difference between intellectual and empirical knowledge.

    Radhe Radhe

  2. Yes, and nowadays, in organised religion, sannyasa or vesh is often awarded to cronies and sycophants of the leaders as a status symbol or position of power, rather than as a diving board for liberation, renunciation et al. Verse 3.6 and its comments perfectly depicts the results and symptoms of such a practise.