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Thread: The Doer

  1. #1
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    The Doer

    Namaste,
    I have been reading the 'Sri Ramanuja Gita Bhasya' published by Sri Ramkrishna Math and I have a few questions that I am hoping someone can clarify.

    In chapter 18, specifically in verses 14 and onwards there is a concept of 'an agent' or 'karta'. It is stated in verses 16 and 17 that

    16: he who sees only the self as the agent on account of uncultivated understanding he of wicked mind, does not see at all and,

    17: he who is free from the notion 'I am the doer' and whose understanding is not tainted slays not though he slays all these men nor is he bound.

    Further there is a discussion of 'knowledge, object of knowledge and the knower.

    In verse 19, it is stated that knowledge, act and the agent are declared in the science of Gunas to be of three kinds according to the difference in the Gunas and lord Krishna then proceeds to talk about these separately from verse 20 to 28.

    Previously in verses 13 and 14 the bhasya gives a purport explaining that 'supreme self' alone is the agent working through body.

    Thus when Sri Krishna talks about 'niyatam...' The obligatory act in verse 23 and the classification of all acts into sattvika, rajasika etc, is he talking about the 'acts' performed by the 'supreme self' working through the body?

    What's throwing me off is that in 26 to 28 there is discussion of classification of ' the agent' itself into sattvika, rajasika etc.

    My confusion is this: who is this classification of talked about in verse 26 to 28? Of the individual self or the supreme self since supreme self is the only agent/karta and the individual self seems to be only the observer or knower?

    My underlying confusion is about who is actually performing the acts, the individual self or the supreme self? Or both? If individual self is not the doer and not actually doing anything then what is his role?
    satay

  2. #2

    Re: The Doer

    || om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya ||

    Namaste

    1. [param]AtmA - the Supreme Self does not act.
    2. jiva, a fraction of His higher energy (parA prakRti), in her purest form, does not act.
    3. PrakRti - the lower energy(shakti) of paramAtmA, does the work, based on the three guNas.
    4. [param]AtmA being the antaryAmi, along with the aparA shakti, gives the preraNA or buddhi (inspiration) to the individual IF the individual is in any way trying to reach the higher One to figure out decisions.
    5. Actually all actions are a product of the combinations of the material modes of nature - triguNa - sattva, raja, tama
    6. Each individual living entity has a certain combination/ratio of this which may keep fluctuating.

    *7. The jiva is the Supreme Lord's marginal potency (tatastha shakti) - which has a tendency to
    i) either be the pure free observer standing apart, OR
    ii) to get entangled in the three guNas and mistakenly think "I am the doer"

    The whole idea is to get rid of ahaMkAr (false ego) , so as to stay on the spiritual side of the fence.

    WHAT IS THE JIVA TO DO? Observe the lower prakRti and the guNa-meter:
    Has tamas increased lately?

    Step 1: Know that "the person did such and such" owing to the rise in tamoguNa. Do not get excited, annoyed, depressed. Stay calm. You are not the guNa (modes). NistraiguNa bhavArjunah. "Get beyond and be without the three modes, Arjun."

    Step 2: How can sattva guNa be elevated in this body?
    * Refer to the scriptures - shAstra. KRshNa says when one is not sure what is to be done, go by the shAstra.
    * Choose the right actions, right food, right lifestyle, right attitude for this body.
    * Go inwards & pray to the antaryAmi (indweller) paramAtmA for insight into steps to take, improve. Watch. Monitor. He gives instinct, intuition, buddhi. Pray for good instincts and sadbuddhi.

    Has sattva increased ? Is this what the guNa-meter is showing? Don't be proud or get puffed-up "wow i am so good!" You are not the guNa.

    What is the jiva to do? Keep reminding herself. I am not the doer. The guNas are acting, interacting. By good fortune, by the grace of the Supreme Lord and saints, i have good thoughts (sadbuddhi) which makes this body act appropriately, learn shastra, whatever.


    Wrong thinking: self-loathing, self-cursing, self-praising, vanity, self-pity, going in circles of emotional turmoil or being out of touch with reality owing to false vanity (i am so good, i did this and that), being unproductive, self-destructive, etc.
    Because again, you are NOT the modes of nature (guNas). They can be monitor with the grace, guidance and sanctioning from paramAtmA.

    The Supreme Lord is HRshikesha, the controller of the senses (reigns). By His grace and bhakti, we can also be in control with His help and guidance.

    _/\_

    om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya ~
    Last edited by smaranam; 07 February 2013 at 04:13 AM.
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

  3. #3

    Re: The Doer

    Also, regarding the reference to asking Arjun to do his kshatriya duty:

    If Arjun is nistraiguNa (without the 3 modes) and guNAteeta (beyond the 3 modes) then he will not think he is killing people in war, on the battlefield. (becs a. he is not the doer b. svadharma == akarma)

    The key here is to be in KRshNa-consciousness i.e. in consciousness of and aligned perfectly with the Will of the Supreme Lord. In that bhAvanA (consciousness).

    Arjun participates and does his prescribed duty because KRshNa instructs him to.
    BG 18.66 sarva dharma parityajya mAmekam sharaNam vraja
    aham tvam sarva pApebhyo mokshAshmi mA suchah
    Abandon all principles [of your own, or heard, learned] and simply surrender to Me [ stay one-pointedly aligned to Me. buddhi-yoga. Put all your trust and faith (shraddhA & nishThA) in Me. ]
    [If you do so,] I shall deliver you from all sins, do not fear.


    Arjun is not even thinking of svadharma Vs. pardharma. He is simply following the Supreme Lord.
    At the end of Gita, Arjun is nirguN, guNAteet, one-pointedly devoted to KRshNa, and without letting his intellect (buddhi) run in N directions (one-pointedness, buddi-yogam) , he simply did as KRshNa adviced.
    Who is KRshNa? The [param]AtmA - Supreme Self
    Who is Arjun? The jiv[AtmA] - individual soul

    Wherever the KrshNa-arjun pair is found, peace, knowledge, oppulence will prevail...

    _/\_

    Shri KRshNa govinda hare murAre he nAth nArAyaNa vAsudeva
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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    Re: The Doer

    Excellent! I have both Shankara's as well as Ramanuja's commentary on the BG from the same publication. So, conversing will be easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    My underlying confusion is about who is actually performing the acts, the individual self or the supreme self? Or both? If individual self is not the doer and not actually doing anything then what is his role?
    The answer to your question is the last paragraph of page 559.

    The purvapakshin argues that if the agent is the Supreme Self, then the individual jiva is absolved of having to do any action prescribed by the Vedas. The response on that page is that the individual self Itself, of Its own free will, is responsible for activity, since the Supreme Self abiding within causes It to act only by granting His permission.

    A group of 100 people may move a stone. They are both together responsible as well as individually responsible for the action.

    Yet another response to this is from Brahmasutras 2:1:34-36 when it deals with the Problem of Suffering. God's role is that of a common cause like rainfall. Rainfall is absolutely essential for grown of crops. But a seed of one type gives rise to a plant of its own type purely because of its own internal tendencies. It does NOT give rise to a plant of a random/different type.

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    Re: The Doer

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Excellent! I have both Shankara's as well as Ramanuja's commentary on the BG from the same publication. So, conversing will be easy.

    The answer to your question is the last paragraph of page 559.

    The purvapakshin argues that if the agent is the Supreme Self, then the individual jiva is absolved of having to do any action prescribed by the Vedas. The response on that page is that the individual self Itself, of Its own free will, is responsible for activity, since the Supreme Self abiding within causes It to act only by granting His permission.

    A group of 100 people may move a stone. They are both together responsible as well as individually responsible for the action.

    Yet another response to this is from Brahmasutras 2:1:34-36 when it deals with the Problem of Suffering. God's role is that of a common cause like rainfall. Rainfall is absolutely essential for grown of crops. But a seed of one type gives rise to a plant of its own type purely because of its own internal tendencies. It does NOT give rise to a plant of a random/different type.
    NOTE: Though this is a 5 page reply, please read it slowly with patience ( I hope you manage to reach end . The more I try to edit it to trip it, I end up adding more info to it)

    What you say is right.

    I will further say something on this (from Shankar bhashya)

    16: he who sees only the self as the agent on account of uncultivated understanding he of wicked mind, does not see at all and,

    17: he who is free from the notion 'I am the doer' and whose understanding is not tainted slays not though he slays all these men nor is he bound.
    First of all there is (in hindi) - Shabdo kI mArAmArI - Fight of the words. One word may convey different meaning than we generally think.

    To understand verse no 16, we will have to understand verse 14 and 15.

    14: There are 5 causes for doing karma.
    15: By body mind and soul, if one does karma according to shastra-updesha or opposite to shastra-updesha (adharam), for that these 5 causes are responsible.

    In this statements, if you contemplate, the statement is said in shakshi bhava - meaning form standpoint of observer.

    e.g. in vivekchudamani, it says that, if you you soot an arrow at tiger, but later, an opinion arises in your intellect that - this is not tiger but cow, then now you cannot stop the arrow.

    This sloka was referring to prarabhdha, but we will not go deep into it.

    What I want you to understand from which standpoint this line in blue is said - an opinion arises in your intellect.

    It does not say that - if one realizes that it's cow and not tiger.

    Spotted the difference.

    It's said as an observer. Shankaracharya says as an observer of Intellect. He sees that - an opinion arises in intellect.

    Similarly, in Jnana kand (chapters 13-18), it's said from standpoint of observer.

    All gunas are causes and you observe that they are causes, you do not mix with them, but rather separate from them.

    Now, lets come back to verse 14

    14: It says that there are 5 causes for doing karma.

    These 5 causes (kAraNa) are:

    1. AadhAra (sharIra) - body
    2. kartA - (ahankAra) - Ego
    3. Mind, intellect, 5 Gyanendriyas and 5 karmendriyas
    4. 5 pranas: Reasons due to which various movements and other kriyas are possible.
    5. devas (demi-gods) controlling 5 prANa.

    e.g

    gross body = Pruthvi
    Ego = Rudra
    skin = vAyu (air)
    eyes = surya

    Also the sanskaras of past are called as daivam.

    All these are the causes and Atman is observer.

    So if you combine verses 14, 15, 16 and 17,

    It will be

    14: There are 5 causes for doing karma.

    15: By body mind and soul, if one does karma according to shastra or opposite to shastra (adharam), for that these 5 causes are responsible.

    16: Regarding Karma, even though these 5 causes are reason, due to impure intellect, the one who sees that (knows that) it is asanga-Atman [1] is the one who is doing work, such a person with impure (stained) intellect does not know anything.
    (In short: this person is still in kartA bhAva.)

    17: In whose antakarNa [2], 'there is no such bhAva like - 'I Am kartA (Doer), and the one who's intellect is not {identified / merged / associated} [3] in karma, that purUSha (person) , instead of killing all people (lakhs of people) does not himself gets killed and he is not bound by pApa (sin) i.e. not bound by sinful karma.


    [1] asanga-Atman

    a-sanga. sanga means association. a-sanga means non-association. So atman or brahman is not associated, involved, merged, with all the causes of doing karma. So Atman cannot do any karma. The person one with Atman or in atmic consciousness will also not be associated with causes of karma and hence karma. Since the person is not associated with karma, he/she iis an observer. He/she is in a-karma bhAva. He/She doe not have kartA bhAva and so is not responsible of any karma that happens through the body or maya or prikriti and hence he/she is not bound by it. Hence not a trace of blood touches him/her. Fruits of karma (papa or punya) cannot touch him/her.

    [2] antakarNa
    antakarNa can be split in to - mana, buddhi, chitta, ahankAra.

    [3] {identified / merged / associated} These words are not said but implied. So in word to word you may not find them. But they help understand the meaning.

    In simple short words of ashtAvakra gItA, a person who sees karma even in a-karma is a-jnani and a person who sees a-karma in karma is jivan mukta.

    --- seeing karma in a-karma and seeing a-karma in karma.

    I hope this clears out. I humbly request you to please read chapter 18 again. I think, all verses are tightly connected with each other like a chain.

    ---

    (Note: All verses are translated from Gujarati to English)

    ---

    More details:

    sloka 19:

    GYAtA: Knower,
    GYAna: Knowledge,
    GYeya vastu: Object of knowledge

    encourage (prerNA) karma {and with the 'sanga' of these 3 (triputi)}, activity in karma takes place. kartA (doer), kAraNa (cause) {and} kriyA (action), all three, are aashraya (aadhaara - base, support) of karma.

    19: knower, knowledge and object of knowledge encourage karma, and with the help of these three action takes place. karma is done by the aadhara (support) of the three - doer, cause, and action (of doing).

    Verses 26-28 do tell about types of karma.

    Action (karma) is the grossest form of desire and desire is subtlest form of action. desires cannot be seen, but it's manifestation i.e. karma - action, can be seen. So by judging action, one can judge desire or guna.

    there are 3 types of Gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas. These are explained in slokas 26-28

    ---

    In short, atman (sat-chit-anand atman), brahman, para-brahman, para-atman, mula-brahman mean one and the same thing,

    Sri Ramakrishna says, that

    different people call water with different names - Hindus call it as jala, musalmans call it pani, christian call it water, but they are talking of same thing.

    ---

    Advaita is very difficult to grasp, so some great saints and acharyas mention jiva or jiva-atman as atman. They call nirakara sat-chit-ananda atman as para-atman, just to separate it from atman.

    This is because, i think, that in daily life, when we call atman, laymen thinks of ghost, jiva, etc and not God. But if we say brahman, then we will not think of ghost. same with para-atman.

    these are just different words conveying same meaning.

    ---

    It's not agent of action, but causes of action. Please read in mother tongue. Enlgish sometimes makes mess. There can be anuvAda, but bhAvAnuvAda (bhavanuvada) may be missed.

    ---

    Lets take an e.g. given by Sri Ramana Maharshi

    Atman is a screen and the projection is maya. no matter if there is a bloody scene in the movie, not even a trace of blood can stain screen cloth.

    ---

    Maya has 3 gunas, and so everything that is under it also has them in various permutation and combination. Maya rests on atman. Atman is aadhara upon which creation rests and plays. Atman itself does not play or move.

    ---

    Sri Ramana Maharshi says,

    Canvas (cloth used for drawing) is atman and the painting is the body. Painting is the dis-ease

    ---

    In brief: Atman is a shakshi, like sun, in it's presence entire eco-system works. Sun does not do anything. Maya is prikriti. It has 3 gunas. Ego retains individuality and so one is trapped in it. Due to ego and mind (attachment), one thinks that he/she is doing karma, but actually it is jiva that does karma and not atman. We are not jiva, but Shiva (atman)

    Jiva = sukshma sharira = ego = antakaran = mind --> all convey same meaning.

    If there is no ego, there is no mind and vice versa.

    Gita starts with the hands of blind (moha-andha) and ends with Arjuna's statement - that my moha is destroyed (nasTo moHa) and I know who I am.

    ---

    Darshan = 'to know' and not 'to see'. That is why in Gita Bhagavan says, one who 'knows' my (purpose of) birth and karma, which are divine, is not separate than me.

    Bhagavan also says, out of 4 bhaktas, Jnani bhakta is my atman, meaning Jnani bhakta (Self Realized soul) is the most dear to me.

    Jnani is not different from Brahman.

    What matters is where our consciousness is - waking, dream, deep sleep or in turiya (atman sthiti / atma-tatva).

    EDIT:

    a-jnani sees, Jnani knows (is conscious of) - Jnani is not person or ego or sharira. Jnani is consciousness = brahman = sat-chit=atman. Mind of Jnani is Brahman itself

    ---

    Karma done with karta bhava ripes frutis, but karma done with a-karta bhava does not ripe fruit (for the shakshi-observer)

    ---

    I hope you are getting my point.

    A request: Please re-read chapter 18, preferably in your mother tongue, or in hindi for better translation

    chapter 18 is the last chapter, it summarizes all 17 chapters, and gives conclusion.
    Last edited by Amrut; 07 February 2013 at 11:49 AM.
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

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  6. #6

    Re: The Doer

    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    Namaste,
    I have been reading the 'Sri Ramanuja Gita Bhasya' published by Sri Ramkrishna Math and I have a few questions that I am hoping someone can clarify.

    In chapter 18, specifically in verses 14 and onwards there is a concept of 'an agent' or 'karta'. It is stated in verses 16 and 17 that

    16: he who sees only the self as the agent on account of uncultivated understanding he of wicked mind, does not see at all and,

    17: he who is free from the notion 'I am the doer' and whose understanding is not tainted slays not though he slays all these men nor is he bound.

    Further there is a discussion of 'knowledge, object of knowledge and the knower.

    In verse 19, it is stated that knowledge, act and the agent are declared in the science of Gunas to be of three kinds according to the difference in the Gunas and lord Krishna then proceeds to talk about these separately from verse 20 to 28.

    Previously in verses 13 and 14 the bhasya gives a purport explaining that 'supreme self' alone is the agent working through body.

    Thus when Sri Krishna talks about 'niyatam...' The obligatory act in verse 23 and the classification of all acts into sattvika, rajasika etc, is he talking about the 'acts' performed by the 'supreme self' working through the body?

    What's throwing me off is that in 26 to 28 there is discussion of classification of ' the agent' itself into sattvika, rajasika etc.

    My confusion is this: who is this classification of talked about in verse 26 to 28? Of the individual self or the supreme self since supreme self is the only agent/karta and the individual self seems to be only the observer or knower?

    My underlying confusion is about who is actually performing the acts, the individual self or the supreme self? Or both? If individual self is not the doer and not actually doing anything then what is his role?
    Namaste. Excellent questions!

    In regards to the last question, Sri U. Ve. Velukkudi Krishnan Swami, a well-known traveling Sri Vaishnava scholar and preacher often noted that when the gItA is saying "you are not the doer," what it is really saying is "you are not an *independent* doer." In other words, the jIva is a dependent-doer, because for it to "do" anything, four other factors are required - the body, the mind and motor-organs, the life-airs (prANa-s), and paramAtmA (see gItA 18.14-15). So the answer to your question is that the individual self performs actions, but always in conjunction with these other four factors, and thus is in one sense a doer, and in another sense a non-doer. Now, when verse 16 says that he is a fool who sees only the Self (jIvAtman) as the doer, the sense of it is that the wise one understands that the paramAtmA, who supports the body, sense, all of prakRiti, etc must give His consent for any actions which the jIvAtman wishes to perform out of its own free will. The foolish person does not appreciate his dependence on paramAtmA - he thinks he is in control of his own body without any outside agency actuating his desires and translating them into physical actions.

    Note the application of this principle here: if the warrior understands that his very body and senses are all supported by the paramAtmA, and thus it is paramAtmA who must give His consent for any actions the jIva-as-warrior wishes to perform, then it follows that if he fights the battle according to the direction of paramAtmA, then he is not an independent agent who will accrue sinful reaction but rather is merely acting according to His direction.

    The "agent" being talked about in verses 26-28 is the jIvAtma, since paramAtmA can never be sAttvik, rAjAsik, tamAsik. This seems contradictory if one does not understand the interdependence between the different players in performing action. However, since the jIva is a doer, but only in a dependent sense, he can be thought of as an agent in a conventional sense, and that is the sense in which verses 26-28 are discussing.

    As an aside, I found a free bhagavad gita e-book with translation and commentary according to Ramanuja's system done by Sri U.Ve. Ranga Ramanuja Swami, an Australian devotee. It's available as a free download, and the commentary is very crisp, more like an abridged version of Raamaanuja's commentary, but you might find it helpful in understanding the unabridged commentary translated by Swami Adidevananda.

    http://yajurvedaustralasia-resources...manuja-acarya/
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: The Doer

    namaste and thank you for the replies.

    I have to re read verses 14 to 16 as some of you have suggested.

    My own thoughts about this particular Bhasya are leaning towards what Philosolaptor and indiaspirituality has said and what wundermonk has implied i.e. the jiva is the doer but a dependent one. I think to keep consistent with the bhasya this is how one has to understand it.

    That said, as we can see even on this thread there is a difference of understanding who is actually doing something and who is inactive observer e.g. smaranam is saying that it is only prakrti that is the doer. In that case both param atma and jiva are simply observers then? I should dare to say that this understanding is not consistent with what sri ramanuja is saying. Also, if prakri is the doer, why does jiva have to suffer or benefit through this body for the actions of the prakri?
    satay

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    Re: The Doer

    namaste,
    Thanks for the link but link to download the pdf is not working once you get to the download page. Do you have the pdf? Could you please email that to me at karmic_hindu@yahoo.com?

    Quote Originally Posted by philosoraptor View Post
    As an aside, I found a free bhagavad gita e-book with translation and commentary according to Ramanuja's system done by Sri U.Ve. Ranga Ramanuja Swami, an Australian devotee. It's available as a free download, and the commentary is very crisp, more like an abridged version of Raamaanuja's commentary, but you might find it helpful in understanding the unabridged commentary translated by Swami Adidevananda.

    http://yajurvedaustralasia-resources...manuja-acarya/
    satay

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    Re: The Doer

    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    Also, if prakri is the doer, why does jiva have to suffer or benefit through this body for the actions of the prakri?
    Firstly, nothing that emanates from God or is spiritually equivalent to God can suffer/benefit. Even in Ramanuja's reading, (and in all schools of Hindu philosophy), trouble comes to the self because it identifies itself with the non-self (prakriti).

    Next, what transmigrates is the sukshma sharira which is in any case a sheath over jiva (as it were). So, the jiva transmigrates only in so far as it is still covered by nescience or it still identifies itself with Prakriti.

    Next, agency implies change but the self is immutable.

    So, the self, in its essential nature, is NOT the agent. Agency accrues to it only insofar as it is still covered by prakriti. Agency is of the essential nature of prakriti. Prakriti is constantly changing/evolving/acting.

    Note that even free will, in Vedanta, is of prakriti and its closeness to the purusha. The trifecta of Buddhi, Ahamkara and manas give rise to thought, will, resolve, etc.

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    Re: The Doer

    Namaste,

    Who is the doer ? The answer is Prakriti. The Purusha or Atman is not the doer. However, Prakriti cannot act on its own. "Desire" (one of vikaars) arising in Purusha brings Purusha to Prakriti and it makes Prakriti to act in such a way so as to fulfill the desire of Purusha.

    Purusha being tinged with 'desire' forgets its True Nature and identifies itself with the Prakriti and gives rise to Jeeva and owns the doership wrongly. This wrong identification causes Jeeva being bound to the fruits of Karma and keeps him bound to the Prakriti.

    *******

    Lord Krishna has said a number of times in Bhagwad Gita that "one" (who actually is Purusha/Atman) is not the doer but the Prakriti. The KartA (doer), Karana (the instrument to carry out work) are both in Prakriti. Let' see this truth being reflected by these verses too in BG :

    a) Ahamkaar vimudhatma kartAham iti manyate ==> The deluded soul due to Ahamkaar assumes " I am the doer". (BG 3.27)
    b) Shareerasthopi Kaunteya na karoti na lipyate ( BG 13.31) ===> though dwelling in the body, in fact it (AtmAn) does nothing, nor gets tainted..
    c) He who sees that all actions are performed in everyway by nature (Prakriti) and the Self as the non-doer, he alone verily sees. (BG 13.29)
    d) However, that who knows the reality of things, must believe that he does nothing, even though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating or drinking, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking, answering the calls of nature, grasping, and opening or closing the eyes, holding that it is the senses alone that are moving among their objects. (BG 5.8)

    That is why it is necessary to cultivate dispassion and detachment from worldly actions and their fruits. Once the Jeeva is successful in removing the vikaars like samkalpa, desire, fear, delusion ... the glue of these vikaars which apparently binds Purusha to Prakriti is broken and the Purusha realises its True Nature and knows that He was never the doer and therefore, no sins or merits accrue to him.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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