How does the Lord punish without being cruel?

ॐ श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः।


Neither can the Lord be stated to be handing out favours, nor can He be said to be cruel when He punishes, unlike one's relatives and friends or enemies. He is the only real neutral entity, everyone else has some motive. Ishvara is presented by the shAstra as a karmaphaladAta, meaning that He hands over the results in keeping with action as and when the karma is ripe to yield results. The connection as to which action gave which result is unclear to human beings since it may take across lives for the the circumstances to be perfect to manifest the result of any action. Some actions show immediate results, which also are assumed to be of the some perceivable action, but may not be so. With this background, we know that we get the result, for good or bad, based on our own actions. The Lord just gives us what we earn, without adding or subtracting anything from His side.

Yet, if He punishes, is He cruel? This doubt should not be entertained. For one, the punishment is just earned by our own performance of a prohibited action. Can the Lord remain without punishing? No, for the following reasons:
  • If He did, the performer of ill-action will likely consider the wrong action to be the norm and continue doing so. This is disastrous to the person spiritually as well as for the society at large, since people may follow the same. There will be no social-order. 
  • With the law of karma, if one is punished as per wrongdoings, he is freed of such wrong doing and will not have to wait to have all pApa to add up and result in a life that no one should get. Such life can be full of pain and not worth living even for a moment. So in one way, Ishvara's punishment can be seen as a blessing, not cruelty at all. This is the same reason that Manu smriti also recommends a proper punishment in this life itself, so that the future life is not ruined for the jIva. The punishment and suffering in this very life can cleanse the person of future suffering in hell, or animal bodies, etc!
  • Once a person learns that every wrong action brings pain through punishment, one will refrain to the best of his ability, since no one wants pain. This will lead the person to good action and thereby, spiritual growth towards the goal of all-life, moksha.
One may doubt that why then should the Lord be called compassionate, if He is neutral? This is to be understood that the Lord has provided us with Vedas, which reveal dharma and mokSha both. Although mokSha alone is the highest goal of all life, dharma is the means to it by avoiding pApa, and thereby punishment and by performing puNyakarma, and thereby, enjoying happiness. This is a compassionate revelation available for all to follow; a generic human life is sufficient to follow scriptures and no special action is needed for that. And hence, Ishvara is a compassionate Being and not cruel. There is compassion even in cruelty if one looks at a long span that spreads across lives, keeping one inline with dharma.


ॐ तत् सत्।


जगन्मिथ्यात्वम्

ॐ श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः।




जाग्रत्स्वप्नपदार्थयोः दृश्यत्वात् द्वयोरपि समानता। अत्र अन्ये द्वैतिनः कथयन्ति यद् द्वयोः सामान्यं तेन द्वयोरपि सत्त्यमेव अतः स्वप्नपदार्थानामपि जाग्रद्वत् सत्यत्वम् इति तन्न। अस्माकमद्वैतवेदान्तिनां तु जाग्रद्पदार्थानां स्वप्नवद्दृश्यत्वात् वैतथ्यम्। 

केचिदन्ये स्वप्नपदार्थानां मिथ्यात्वं मन्यन्ते किन्तु जाग्रद्पदार्थानां सत्यत्वम्। कस्मात्? यस्मात्तेषां यज्जाग्रद्पदार्थानां प्रयोजनत्वेन सत्यत्वं, यदपि स्वप्नपदार्थानामप्रयोजनत्वेन असत्यत्वं तत्र तेषां हेत्वाभासः। कथम्? यज्जाग्रद्भावानां प्रयोजनत्वमुक्तं तज्जाग्रदृष्ट्या किन्तु यत्स्वप्नभावानामप्रयोजनत्वं कथितं तत्तु न स्वप्नदृष्ट्या इति व्यभिचारेण हेत्वाभासः। तन्न्यायादेव जाग्रद्भावानामपि स्वप्ने अप्रयोजनत्वात् मिथ्यात्वमेव शक्यते वक्तुम् अथवा स्वप्नभावानामपि स्वप्ने प्रयोजनत्वात् सत्यता। त्रिकालबाधित्वात् द्वयोरपि असत्यत्वम्। 

ननु द्वितीयपक्षे यदुक्तं नाम द्वयोरपि सत्यत्वमिति तत्किं न शक्यते? दृश्यत्वादिति मन्यामहे। दृश्यत्वेन हेतुना सर्वेषां पदार्थानां स्वतःसिद्धत्वं नास्ति। द्रष्टुरधीनमेव तेषामस्तित्वं दृश्यं नतु स्वातन्त्र्येण। इत्यतः तेषां मिथ्यात्वम्। 

ननु द्रष्टापि दृश्यापेक्ष इत्यतः तस्यापि मिथ्यात्वमिति चेत्। बाढमेतस्यास्माकमिष्टापत्तिरेव। सर्ववेदान्तशास्त्रेषु दृश्यद्रष्टयोरधिष्ठानरूपस्य एकस्याद्वितीयस्य ब्रह्मणः एव सत्यत्वाभ्युपगमात्। 


श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्।
ॐ तत् सत्।

Thoughts 114

Thoughts 114: येषां मते मुक्तिर्नानन्दस्वरूपः तेषां प्रसिद्धिरपि आनन्दनामान्तेनैव।

अनुभवः ज्ञानम्।



अनुभवस्य तुच्छत्वाय केचन तस्य जडत्वं दर्शयन्ति। तद्वचनन्तु ज्ञानस्य जडत्वमित्युक्त्या तुल्यम्। कथम्? स्मृतिभिन्नं ज्ञानम् अनुभव इति लक्षणात्। ब्रह्मव्यतिरिक्ते सर्वेषां मिथ्यायामनुभवस्यैव जडत्वं न वक्तुमिष्टम्। सत्यंज्ञानमनन्तमिति श्रुत्या ज्ञानलक्षणाच्च। भगवान्भाष्यकारैरपि तत्रतत्रानुभवशब्दस्य प्रयोगादपि।

सर्वेष्वनुभवेषु ब्रह्मैवानुभूयतयित्यपि यदि सत्यं तर्हि सर्वेषु ज्ञानोत्पत्तिष्वपि ब्रह्मैव ज्ञायते। तत्र कोऽपि विशेषभेदो न कर्त्तव्यः। किञ्च अनुभवानां भ्रान्तिश्शक्यते इति यदुक्तिः, तस्याम् एतत्प्रष्टव्यं किं ज्ञानानां भ्रान्तिर्नास्ति वा। एकस्मिन्विषये एकेन गुरुणा वाक्येन शिष्याणां विविधं ज्ञानोत्पत्तिः दर्शनात्, तद्भ्रान्तिरपि शक्यते एव। ततः तत्रापि उभयोर्भेदो नास्ति।

ननु लक्षणवाक्ये तु ज्ञानमुक्तं न तु अनुभवम्। सत्यमेव तत्। तत्र, भगवत्पादैः ज्ञानमिति शुद्धधात्वर्थो भावसाधनो, न तु वृत्तिरुप इत्युक्त्यानन्तरं, धातोः कारकापेक्षास्ति इत्यतः ज्ञानं धात्वर्थोऽपि न भवति, परन्तु लक्षार्थश्चिदिति साधितम्।

तस्मात् यदपि सामान्येन ज्ञानशब्देनोच्यते तस्यानुभवशब्दात् भेदं कृत्वा श्रेष्टमिति वक्तुं नार्हः। यथानुभवो वृत्तिरूपस्तथा ज्ञानमपि। द्वयोर्मध्ये एक एव भेदो यद्यदनुभवं तत्तज्ज्ञानं, किन्तु यद्यज्ज्ञानं तत्तन्नानुभवम्।


ॐ तत् सत्।
श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्।

(चैत्रमासे वसन्तनवरात्र्यां शुद्धसप्तमी)।



निर्विकल्पसमाधिः।


केचिदाहुः वेदान्ते यन्निर्विकल्पकसमाधिः सः योगसमाधेः भिन्नः इति। कश्चिदपि विषये शब्दे वस्तौ वा सः समाधिः शक्यते। यथा ध्यानधारणसमाधिविषयमनु योगसमाधेः फलं स्यात्, तथा अत्र वेदान्तेऽपि समाधेः फलं विषयमनु शक्यते इति युक्तमेव। योगशास्त्रे समाधिरित्युक्ते सामान्येन योगस्य लक्षणं नाम चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध इति प्रसिद्धः। वृत्तिशून्यता वेदान्तस्य लक्ष्यं नास्ति, अतः निर्विकल्पसमाधिर्वृत्तिरूप एव भवति, न तु वृत्तिरहित इति केषामभिप्रायः।

अन्येषां निर्विकल्पसमाधौ वृत्तयः सन्ति वा न सन्ति वा इति संशयः क्रियते। तस्य समाधानं तु भिन्नम्। केचित् वदन्ति-- यो योगसमाधिर्निर्बीजोऽथवा निर्वितर्कः सः वृत्तिरहितः किंतु यो वेदान्तसमाधिः सः वृत्तिसहित इति, तदसत्। यत्र निर्विकल्पसमाधौ त्रिपुटिभेदो नास्ति तत्र वृत्तिः कथं भवितुं शक्यते। अपिच सविकल्पनिर्विकल्पयोर्भेदोऽपि न सिध्यति। स एव सविकल्पो गहनस्थः निर्विकल्पो भवति इत्यप्यनाधारः। योगवेदान्तसमाधयोः ध्यानधारणवस्तुभेद एव न तु वृत्तिभेद इति युक्तम्। योगशास्त्रेषु यद्यद् विभूतिरथवा फलं दृश्यते तत्तद् विषयभेदेन एव न तु समाधिभेदेन। किंच अविद्यानिवृत्तिर्महावाक्यस्य ज्ञानस्य फलमेव इति यद्यपि निर्विल्पेन न सम्भवति चेत्, सविकल्पेन तु सम्भवत्येव यतः सः वृत्तिसहितः। तदेव श्रीदत्तात्रेयेण परशुरामायोक्तम्

निवृत्तिस्तस्य तु ज्ञानादेवेति प्रविभावितम्।
तज्ज्ञानं सविकल्पं स्यादज्ञानस्य प्रबाधनम्॥१७.२६॥
निर्विकल्पकविज्ञानादज्ञानं न निवर्तते।
निर्विकल्पकविज्ञानं केनचिन्न विरुद्ध्यते॥१७.२७॥

तदविद्यानिवृत्तिरूपेण सविकल्पस्य विज्ञानस्य दृष्टफलम्। ज्ञानोत्पत्तेः पश्चात् यत्समाधिसाधनं तत्सर्वं निदिध्यासनम्।
श्रवणमननपूर्वकनिदिध्यासनस्य महावाक्यं विषयः। निदिध्यासने यदा अखण्डाकारवृत्तिर्भवति, तदा वृत्तिरविद्यानाशं कृत्वा स्वतः क्षयमापद्यते। आनन्तरं निर्विकपकसमाधेः संस्कारशेष एव वर्तते। वृत्तिक्षयवृत्तिनिरोधयोर्मध्ये को भेदः? अन्यो वेदान्तवृत्तिरन्यो योगवृत्तिरिति न शक्यते खलु। यद्यपि वृत्तयोर्भेदो नास्ति, तदापि संस्कारविशेषो वर्तते। अतस्द्वयोर्फलभेदः। अदृष्टफलमपि सविकल्पस्य निर्विलपवद्धर्मरूपम्। तदेव निर्विकल्पे धर्ममेघम्। अदृष्टं वासनक्षयञ्च मनोनाशञ्च प्रति नयति अतः निष्ठां ददाति।

ननु योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध इत्युक्तम्। विद्यारण्यैस्तु

वृत्तयस्तु तदानीमज्ञाता अप्यात्मगोचराः ।
स्मरणादनुमीयन्ते व्युत्थितस्य समुत्थितात्॥१.५६॥

इत्युक्तम्। तत्र योगवेदान्तसमाधयोर्भेदस्स्पष्टम्।

सत्यमेतदुक्तं किन्तु भेदो नोक्तम्। यो भेदो योगशास्त्रे सविकल्पनिर्विकल्पयोर्मध्ये, स एव अत्रापि वेदान्तानाम्। अन्ये वृत्तिनिरोधोऽन्ये निरोधो न। किंच यद्यपि वृत्तिनिरोधो निद्रायां वेदान्ते अङ्गीकृतस्तर्हि सूक्ष्मवृत्तिर्बीजरूपे मनसि वर्ततैव। निद्रापि योगशास्त्रे वृत्तिरेव। अस्तु तर्हि निर्भेदो योगवेदान्तसमाधयोर्तेन ज्ञानेन एव मोक्ष इति सिधान्तहानिर्न भवति।


श्रीत्रिपुरायै अर्पणमस्तु।
ॐ तत् सत्।

(वसन्तनवरात्रौ चैत्रसुद्धसप्तमी।)

Rope-snake example in Upanishads




Further to the blog entry रज्जुसर्प rope-snake about the Shruti examples used for the creation of the world, here are the specific mantras of the Upanishads in which the rope-snake example is used. Some of them are clearly in the context of creation itself while others are in the context of मोक्षकारक ज्ञान (liberating knowledge). Please note that all these Upanishads are considered authentic in the tradition since they occur in Muktika's list of 108 Upanishads. And since Shrutis have एकवाक्यता (status of being for the same highest goal) as per सिद्धान्त (traditional Advaita Vedanta stance), no Upanishad can be placed above the other to disqualify the same. 

Most people seem to be unaware as to why Bhashyakara chose those 10 Upanishads only for commenting upon and not others. This is clearly seen in Muktikopanishad which lists Mandukya as enough for ज्ञानोत्पत्ति rise of knowledge, but if not so, then those 10 Upanishads listed, which are commented upon by Bhagavatpadacharya, are to be studied for मोक्ष (liberation). Even then, if knowledge is lacking, then the other Upanishads are introduced in groups till the number reaches 108. However, Upanishad Brahmendra Yogin, who is considered to follow Bhashyakara's interpretation, elaborating further, has commented on all 108 Upanishads. Those interested further may kindly refer the same.

Niralambopanishad
अज्ञानमिति च रज्जौ सर्पभ्रान्तिरिवाद्वितीये सर्वानुस्यूते सर्वमये ब्रह्मणि देवतिर्यङ्नरस्थावरस्त्रीपुरुषवर्णाश्रमबन्धमोक्षोपाधिनानात्मभेदकल्पितं ज्ञानमज्ञानम् ॥ १४ ॥
And [as to what is] अज्ञान is [answered as follows]: अज्ञान is the [delusory] knowledge, [that causes] superimposition of varieties of non-selves based on the manifold adjuncts, gods, animals, immovable (trees), women, men, varNas, stages of life, bondage and liberation, upon ​​​non-dual, all-pervasive, all-inclusive, ​ब्रह्म, like ​the delusion of snake in the rope.

Yogakundalinyupanishad Translated by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar
जायाभवविनिर्मुक्तिः कालरूपस्य विभ्रमः ।
इति तं स्वस्वरूपा हि मती रज्जुभुजङ्गवत् ॥ ७९॥
1.79: Like the conception of the snake in a rope, so the idea of the release from life and Samsara is the delusion of time.

Tejobindupanishad Translated by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar
गगने नीलिमासत्ये जगत्सत्यं भविष्यति ।
शुक्तिकारजतं सत्यं भूषणं चेज्जगद्भवेत् ॥ ७६ ॥
रज्जुसर्पेण दष्टश्चेन्नरो भवतु संसृतिः ।
जातरूपेण बाणेन ज्वालाग्नौ नाशिते जगत् ॥ ७७ ॥
4/6.76-77 (continues till 98): When the blueness of the sky really exists in it, then the universe really is. When the silver in mother-of pearl can be used in making an ornament, when a man is bitten by (the conception of) a snake in a rope, when the flaming fire is quenched by means of a golden arrow, ... then the world really is.

Rudrahridayopanishad
यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यो यस्य ज्ञानमयं तपः ।
तस्मादत्रान्नरूपेण जायते जगदावलिः ॥ ३३॥
सत्यवद्भाति तत्सर्वं रज्जुसर्पवदास्थितम् ।
तदेतदक्षरं सत्यं तद्विज्ञाय विमुच्यते ॥ ३४॥
33-35: From that all-knowing, omniscient Lord, whose being endowed with knowledge itself is the penance [=visualisation], the whole world is created in the form of food [that is consumed by all sense organs]. That entire [world] shines [=appears] as-if real, superimposed [on the Lord] just like a rope on a snake. That is this imperishable reality, knowing which, one is liberated.

Nirvanopanishad Translated by Prof. A. A. Ramanathan
अनित्यं जगद्यज्जनितं स्वप्नजगदभ्रगजादितुल्यम् । 
तथा देहादिसंघातं मोहगुणजालकलितं तद्रज्जुसर्पवत्कल्पितम् । 
28. The phenomenal world is impermanent as it is produced [from Brahman which alone is real]; it is similar to a world seen in a dream and an [illusory] elephant in the sky; similarly, the cluster of things such as the body is perceived by a network of a multitude of delusions and it is fancied to exist as a serpent in a rope.

Nadabindupanishad Translated by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar
अज्ञानं चेति वेदान्तैस्तस्मिन्नष्टे क्व विश्वता ।
यथा रज्जुं परित्यज्य सर्पं गृह्णाति वै भ्रमात् ॥ २६ ॥
26 (1/2) -27. As a person through illusion mistakes a rope for a serpent, so the fool not knowing the eternal truth sees the world [to be true]. When he knows it to be a piece of rope, the illusory idea of a serpent vanishes.

Katharudropanishad Translated by Prof. A. A. Ramanathan
ब्रह्मभूतात्मनस्तस्मादेतस्माच्च्ह्क्तिमिश्रितात् ।
अपञ्चीकृत आकाशसंभूतो रज्जुसर्पवत् ॥ १३॥
13/17. From this Self which is one with Brahman and which is possessed of Maya power arose the unmanifest Akasa like a rope-serpent.

Atmabodhopanishad Translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier
विवेकयुक्तिबुद्ध्याहं जानाम्यात्मानमद्वयम् । तथापि बन्धमोक्षादिव्यवहारः प्रतीयते ॥ ११॥
निवृत्तोऽपि प्रपञ्चो मे सत्यवद्भाति सर्वदा । सर्पादौ रज्जुसत्तेव ब्रह्मसत्तैव केवलम् ॥ १२॥
प्रपञ्चाधाररूपेण वर्ततेऽतो जगन्न हि । यथेक्षुरससंव्याप्ता शर्करा वर्तते तथा ॥ १३॥
II-1-11-13. I know myself without a second, with discrimination. Even then bondage and liberation are experienced. The world has gone away that appears to be real like serpent upon rope; only Brahman exists as the basis of the world; therefore the world does not exist; like sugar pervaded by the taste of the sugarcane, I am pervaded by bliss. All the three worlds, from Brahma to the smallest worm are imagined in me.

Atmopanishad Translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier
अमुष्य ब्रह्मभूतत्त्वाद्ब्रह्मणः कुत उद्भवः ।
मायाक्लृप्तौ बन्धमोक्षौ न स्तः स्वात्मनि वस्तुतः ॥ २६॥
यथा रज्जौ निष्क्रियायां सर्पाभासविनिर्गमौ ।
अवृतेः सदसत्त्वाभ्यां वक्तव्ये बन्धमोक्षणे ॥ २७॥
नावृत्तिर्ब्रह्मणः क्वाचिदन्याभावादनावृतम् ।
अस्तीति प्रत्ययो यश्च यश्च नास्तीति वस्तुनि ॥ २८॥
II-26-27(a). Because that Yogin has become Brahman, how can Brahman be reborn? Bondage and liberation, set up by Maya, are not real in themselves in relation to the Self, just as the appearance and disappearance of the snake are not in relation to the stirless rope.


Annapurnopanishad
रज्जुसर्पदर्शनेन कारणाद्भिन्नजगतः सत्यत्वभ्रमो निवृत्तः ॥ १.१६॥
1.10 The delusion of the reality of the world, as different from its cause, is negated, by [way of example of negation of] the vision of the snake in the rope [as different from its cause].

Annapurnopanishad Translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier
अधिष्ठाने परे तत्त्वे कल्पिता रज्जुसर्पवत् ।
कल्पिताश्चर्यजालेषु नाभ्युदेति कुतूहलम् ॥४.१०॥
4.10. (The whole world) is superimposed on the supreme Reality, the Ground, as the snake is on the rope. No curiosity is aroused as regards these superimposed wonders.

ॐ तत् सत्।


गुरुपादुकाभ्याम्।



Thoughts 113

Thoughts 113: यस्य दहन्ती मुमुक्षा नास्ति तं इच्छाः दहन्ति।

रज्जुसर्प rope-snake



Today morning, I was thinking about प्रक्रियाभेद in Vedanta and how each one is so meticulously made to lead one to the non-dual truth, whether by Shruti or by commentators of the tradition. I was planning to jot down something about a साध्वी प्रक्रिया as a quotation, but I am happy to close the day with the same thought via this blog entry, thanks to an occasion that arose a while back. There was an interesting explanation I was subject to about the रज्जुसर्प rope-snake example and what is the point to be taken home from that. That one fears from a snake superimposed or projected subjectively on an existent rope is an example for निवृत्ति from the world. This example contrasts the प्रवृत्ति towards the world indicated by another example of शुक्तिरजक appearance of silver in nacre. Interestingly, some say that these examples do not serve any further purpose in explaining creation and therefore best left alone, although the tradition is said to use these for the latter! 

Now, instead, clay-pot is talked about in Shruti itself and it best explains creation. True, but so is rope-snake! Bhashyakara is well-known to quote ideas that are covered across various Shrutis and this includes examples of रज्जुसर्प many a time. It is, therefore, no surprise to me that the रज्जुसर्प examples are dealt with for explaining creation itself in the following Upanishads themselves: Niralamba, Yogakundalini, Tejobindu, Rudrahridaya, Nirvana, Nadabindu, Katharudra, Atmabodha, Atma, Annapurna, all part of authentic 108 Upanishads, commented by Upanishad Yogendra, needless to mention that Karikakara used the example very fruitfully to serve a great purpose. 

This brings us to the प्रक्रियाभेद। One shouldn't restrict oneself to one example of one प्रक्रिया and map everything under the sun on to it. The pot-clay example is undoubtedly a great example in शृष्टिदृष्टिवाद, but rope-snake is the best fit for दृष्टिसृष्टिवाद। Throwing this example out would be throwing the baby with the bath water, since there would go a gem of a प्रक्रिया, praised by great stalwarts of Vedanta such as Vidyaranyacharya, Appayya Dikshita, Madhusudhana Sarasvati and Prakashananda. And of course, the entire Mandukya Upanishad uses this very प्रक्रिया, leading the Karikakara to use the rope-snake example in two of His verses.

The following verse about प्रक्रियाभेद should be well understood and remembered for one's own successful pursuit of the goal.

यया यया भवेत् पुंसां व्युत्पत्तिः प्रत्यगात्मनि।
सा सैव प्रक्रिया साध्वी विपरीता ततोऽन्यथा ॥ 


श्रीधरपादुकाभ्याम्।
ॐ तत् सत्।