Can Jnana & Karma be combined? Can Karma be negated?

Authors: Shivashankar Rao & Rami Sivan

Can Jnana & Karma be combined?

Author: Shivashankar Rao
Bangalore, India

Note to readers: Please find the comprehensive article on Maya, Gyana (Jnani) and Karma on this portal menu.

The branch of the Veda dealing with karma or rituals is also called karmakanda. This deals with the various vedic rituals including the yagas or sacrifices. The mantras in the samhita section are chanted at the appropriate stages in the performance of the vedic rites. Whereas the vedantic systems give the karmakanda a lower place, the meemamsa system makes it the chief aspect of the vedas assigning to the vedanta or the upanishadic section a subsidiary place.

There is a school of thought which says that jnana or knowledge and karma or ritualistic action can be combined. If Krishna could teach the Bhagavadgita, or Shankara could do so much work in his short life time as vanquishing the opponents or writing philosophical treatises or making disciples or establishing matas one has to concede that JNANA KARMA SAMUCHCHAYA is possible.

Yogavasishta expounds subtle spiritual truths by illustrating them through ingenious stories. Vasishta instructed Rama for understanding the ultimate nature of reality, knowing which Rama became a Jivanmukta, like a lotus floating on water. The discourse between Rama and Vasishta forms the subject matter of the Yogavasishta.

It has been implied that liberation(moksha) is not attainable solely by knowledge(jnana) or by action(karma) and both must be combined in coordination like the two wings of a bird. So, the synthesis of karma and jnana is the main theme of Yogavasista. Moksha signifies the advent of a higher consciousness in man and transforms his egocentric activity into action unhindered by desire and attachment.

What is aspired here is a means of living the life of a Jivanmukta as the ultimate end of human existence. However, a Jivanmukta is not averse to the world of everyday affairs. He however, participates in it without getting involved in any way. He preserves the unity in diversity in his life.

Yogavasista introduces philosophical truths to the common people who are adhikaris (persons with the requisite qualifications) to such knowledge. It penetrates the consciousness by grabbing the attention through effective stories. It would be very useful to all of us to read something from this great work.

We urge readers to browse through the fundamental concepts of Karma and Jnana on this portal.

Can Karma be negated or escaped?

Author: Rami Sivan (Hindu Priest, Mimamsaka, Vedanta teacher, Pancharatrika)
March 30th, 2020

You cannot “overcome” Karma – karma is the bill for past enjoyment and choices. If you over indulge in alcohol and drugs you will suffer severe health problems – like liver failure – you will just have to accept them as consequences of your own bad choices and then deal with each and every ailment as it arises.

The doctors will give you medication to alleviate the symptoms of your failed liver – but you cannot doge it or escape from it – you will need to adjust to it.

So mantra papa and all the other upāyas and parihārams for karma are like Panadol – they are placebos to help you to manage – they don’t change anything.

So as sādhakas we accept our karma – we welcome it and use it to transform ourselves into better more compassionate and caring people.

Then what are the purpose of Phalastuti? Its simple inducement to get people to chant the holy name. Like bribing a child to take medicine by offering sweets. This is meant only for kaniṣṭha adhikāris – uttama adhikāris never recite the phala śruti.